Nonprofit cradles grieving families

Pregnancy loss, for any family, is an emotional and lonely experience. A local nonprofit in Waco nurtures and cradles grieving families so that they can honor their loss and not feel so alone. Cradled by Love, Hope and Healing offers support and a safe place for these families to grieve.

Cradled is hosting its annual Painting with a Purpose event to recognize National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday at Painting with a Twist at 1621 N. Valley Mills Drive.

The event will raise funds and provide support for women and families experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant loss and infertility. Grieving families will have the opportunity to create meaningful pieces of art.

“These families get to take something that they can put on their wall,” said Dena Quigley, Cradled group leader. “It’s more than just a painting. It’s a meaning. It’s a representation of that memorial, or that honor, or that loss.”

Cradled board member, Tasha Roberts, said since these babies haven’t lived a long life, there are not a lot of tangible memories to connect with. This opportunity offers that.

If Cradled is given enough notice, they can provide birth support, photography and emotional support in-hospital.

Quigley spoke about her experience with this and how Cradled cared for her in her dark moments. She said three women from Cradled offered continuous support for her and her husband. When her daughter died in the hospital, the women from Cradled still bathed, clothed and cared for her daughter because they connected with her situation. Quigley said she was still able to hold her daughter and have photos taken.

“I would have gone crazy had I not had these other women here and knowing that we weren’t alone,” Quigley said. “Yes, what we were facing was horrible, but I didn’t feel it was so earth shattering because I had love and support there with me.”

Cradled also offers a six-week postpartum support group for grieving families. It allows families to share their experiences and to recognize and connect with others facing similar situations. The groups also address how these circumstances can affect relationships or spirituality. At the end of the six weeks, families are given candles to take home for use as a memorial.

“The types of losses that the families in the groups experience are often a fairly wide range,” Roberts said. “But you can still create a community and safe place to share those experiences.”

Rachel Craig founded Cradled in 2011 to support women and families that experienced the loss of a baby.

“I feel like we provide a place for women,” Craig said. “We truly hope to cradle these families. We hope that’s what we are for them while they’re grieving.”

According to the American Pregnancy Association, 10 to 25 percent of women experience a miscarriage, and most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.

“Chances are people know somebody who has experienced loss,” Quigley said. “By saying I’m sorry you’re validating our loss and you’re validating the life that we carried.”

Cradled receives more volunteers each year with women who previously participated in groups and found meaning in their loss. Those women return to support other families facing similar situations.

“It also gives our families something to do with their grief,” Craig said. “We find that our families finish a group and want to come back because they don’t want it to end or they want to offer support to the next round of people that come in.”

Cradled recently became an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Their support is based on volunteers and their annual Painting with a Purpose fundraiser.

“Cradled can always use monetary support because we want to reach out more and make sure that no family has to go down this road alone,” Quigley said. “We want to make sure they know about us.”