Evening gives comfort to grieving parents in Okanagan

Evening Among the Angels fundraising dinner Thursday, June 21

Just the thought of losing a baby is a terrifying nightmare for all parents. But when that unimaginable event becomes reality, there is support available.

Among The Angels was created to assist families who have experienced a miscarriage, stillborn, sudden infant death or other loss of an infant.

A fundraising dinner called Evening Among the Angels does just that.

Featuring a 100-mile dinner en blanc, the Thursday, June 21 secret venue event raises funds for grief counselling and related grief services in the community. At the last minute, the secret location is revealed to the angel guests, who are entertained, wined and dined.

Evening Among The Angels was created when Marie Hayden was distributing Angel Dresses to grieving families. She felt there should be something more that could be done to assist these families process their grief.

See related: Angel dresses offer comfort to parents

And considering the tragedy of such loss, the support is definitely needed and appreciated.

“The death of an infant leaves parents and family members holding an intense sadness — a sadness that is painful, overwhelming, and frightening,” said Susan Guttridge of Live Happy Counselling, one of the counsellors with Among The Angels. “Often without explanation for the death, this type of loss violates core beliefs and shatters hopes and expectations. This tidal wave of emotion can make a parent feel out of control, the smallest of life’s tasks too much to focus on.

“Recognizing the profound impact of loss on families, the Among the Angles foundation tries to alleviate some of the added stress of decision-making. They do this by providing tiny burial angel gowns, funding counselling as well as holistic approaches to grief including acupuncture, therapeutic massage and yoga therapy. They keep the process simple and confidential, asking only the questions that are needed to set up funding. Some parents might need the safe space of counselling immediately for symptom relief, and others may not be ready until months later. But when they are ready, the funding is available because it is important for their loss to be acknowledged and grieved.”

Those who would like to show their support can register for the event online at

The event is also seeking donations of bottles of wine for the Wine Pull and treats for the Decadent Dessert Auction.

Donations can also be made to Evening Among The Angels at Prospera Credit Union in Vernon.

Spend An Evening Among the Angels

Benefit for Angel Dresses and grief counselling for bereaved parents takes place June 15

  • Jun. 9, 2017 8:30 a.m.

Grab your date, dress in your best black and white formal attire and get ready for an unforgettable evening.

An Evening Among the Angels fundraiser takes place June 15 at a secret location and features cocktails, tasty food, live music and entertainment as well as a decadent dessert auction and wine pull.

Last year, Mackie Lake House was the setting for this elegant evening underneath the stars. Once again, the event is a fundraiser for Okanagan Angel Dresses, which makes tiny outfits or dresses for a baby who has died. As well, funds raised will help to support local grief services that provide support to families dealing with the loss of an unborn, stillborn or newborn child as well as post-partum depression. Funds will also be donated to North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society and the Family Resource Centre to support their programs.

Tickets are available online at For more information, please call 250-306-7474.

Angel Dresses -Vernon Morning Star


April 1, 2015 · Updated 2:39 PM

Marie Hayden and her daughter, Amelia, nine, with some of the tiny dresses that have been created from donated wedding and formal gowns for B.C. Angel Dresses, to be given to parents whose baby has died. Hayden Fitness is a collector location for the gowns and dresses. / Katherine Mortimer

In her pre and post-natal fitness classes, Marie Hayden works with clients who are celebrating one of the happiest times in their lives.

But the owner of Hayden Fitness also knows that pregnancy doesn’t always end in joy.

When she discovered Angel Dresses, she knew she wanted to help.

B.C. Angel Dresses takes donated wedding and formal gowns and with the help of volunteer seamstresses turns them into a tiny dress or outfit for a baby who has died.

Hayden found out about the organization in a round-about way.

“I was in the middle of Dancing with the Vernon Stars and was looking for a dress to wear for our routine and the person who gave it to me said if I couldn’t use it, it could be donated to Angel Dresses,” said Hayden. “I said, ‘tell me more’ and then I went on Facebook and learned more and that piqued my curiosity.

“I looked around and realized nobody in the Okanagan was doing this so I asked how I could get involved and we are now a collector location for the dresses (for the southern Interior).”

Angel Dresses was founded by Becky Panter in Saskatchewan following the stillbirth of her son, Christopher.

With its motto, “No foot is too small that it cannot leave an imprint on the world,” the Angel Dresses movement has since expanded across the country, and Hayden has volunteered to be the local representative for B.C. Angel Dresses, which has its head office in Pitt Meadows.

Angel Dresses are designed to provide comfort to families by providing a beautiful gown or outfit for their final goodbye or however they choose to use it. Its founders believe that “there is no greater gift that can be given to a grieving family than affirming the importance of the life of their child by offering this simple gift.”

Sewn by volunteer seamstresses, donated dresses are used to create gowns and outfits for families grieving the death of their child, and are provided free of charge to families across B.C.

Each dress or outfit is packed with a “Wrapped in Love” leaflet printed with the words, “In honour of your precious child we’ve sewn this little gown, with caring hands and loving hearts so comfort might be found. Knowing it is given to a baby who has died, we’ve stitched each seam with tender care and tucked much love inside.”

For Hayden, a mother of two daughters, it’s a way to honour the women who are her clients, who in addition to private training, can take classes in everything from Blossoming Belly Pilates to Mom & Me Yoga.

“We have these two great niches here, with pre and post-natal and everyone has been very supportive and we’ve had lots of dresses dropped off,” she said. “And we’re connected with Vernon Jubilee Hospital as well as local midwives and doulas to make them aware of this program.”

The struggle now, said Hayden, is finding enough volunteer seamstresses to transform bridal and formal gown into tiny dresses and outfits.

She has connected with the Canterbury Crafters at Canterbury Court in Vernon who have donated their time and skills to make these dresses to be given to bereaved parents.

The dresses that have been made so far are exquisite. Hayden opens boxes and peels back tissue paper to reveal tiny dresses with beautiful details such as lace and miniature pearls.

“The detail is second to none and the volunteer seamstresses were very happy to be a part of this and for me, it’s been a great way to give back.”

Completed dresses can be shipped to hospitals around the province, at no charge to parents.

“People can connect on the web site or Facebook and let us know where they are and we will get a dress to them.”

Gowns of any colour can be donated by dropping them off at Hayden Fitness, #201, 2500-53rd Ave. It’s also where volunteer seamstresses can pick up the gowns for transforming into Angel Dresses.

For more information about Angel Dresses, call Hayden at 250-306-7474,  see or see the B.C. Angel Dresses page on Facebook.

The Facebook page also contains patterns for dresses and other outfits.