BEREAVEMENT GOWNS: Karen Keen, Coralie Bradley and Valerie Harmer with the bereavement gowns they make for babies who have passed away.
BEREAVEMENT GOWNS: Karen Keen, Coralie Bradley and Valerie Harmer with the bereavement gowns they make for babies who have passed away. Meg Bolton

Weddings dresses used to support grieving parents

NO MATTER where she is or what she's doing, you can almost guarantee Karen Keen will find a way to talk about wedding dresses.

She's using donated gowns from one of the happiest days of people's lives to make clothing for those experiencing some of the saddest times.

The number of bereavement gowns she's helped make is in the hundreds but she hasn't done it alone - she's had the help of other members from the Happy Crafters.

Made up of women throughout the Lockyer Valley, the Happy Crafters are a craft group run out of Hatton Vale Uniting Church.

The social group is an opportunity for women to connect with like-minded crafters of all abilities for either fun or to help charity.

The bereavement project is just one project with which the crafters have the opportunity to help.

As the cause is close to her heart, Mrs Keen organises the bereavement project.

She almost lost her own daughter two decades ago and uses the project as a way to give back.

Fellow crafters Valerie Harmer and Sue Cox are heavily involved in the project - they use their sewing skills to make the majority of clothing.

"We all know someone that's been touched by this,” Mrs Keen said.

The group makes clothes to fit unborn babies aged from 12 weeks to full term.

Mrs Keen said making bereavement gowns was a way of acknowledging the pain families who have lost young ones are going through.

"When you go back to our grandmothers' era a lot of times the baby got disposed of, there was no funeral, no nothing, so it's nice to be able to do this,” she said.

The trio have donated almost 200 gowns to hospitals from Brisbane to Toowoomba as a way to show their support.

Happy Crafter Coralie Bradley also contributes to the cause by making trauma teddies for children in hospital.

The bereavement project is funded purely from donations.

They urge anyone with an old wedding dress, debutante gown or light-coloured bridesmaid dress to donate to the group.


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