SD women keep memories of lost infants alive in albumsYANKTON — With the idea of keeping alive memories of lost infants, a regional project is providing families with a way to put those mementos into a special scrapbook.
By: JEREMY HOECK, Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan
YANKTON — With the idea of keeping alive memories of lost infants, a regional project is providing families with a way to put those mementos into a special scrapbook.
Organizer Rebecca Hanson of Ramona, along with Sarah Mellem of Irene, have watched their project — Angel Albums — grow from a personal good-will gesture for a small number of families into an endeavor that now works with six regional hospitals.
“We were thinking of something that could be positive,” Hanson said. “Another mother had started a scrapbook after their child died. It was a place to put your memories and be at peace.
“You don’t even need to be a scrapbooker. It’s about putting together memories.”
For Hanson and her husband Brian, the project hits home. They lost their daughter, Brenna, to Potter’s Syndrome nine years ago, and have since used that experience into working with grieving families who have themselves lost a child.
“It’s all about knowing there are other people out there to help you, in whatever way we can,” Hanson said. “In that situation, people think, ‘Just fix it.’ We can’t fix it, but if we can provide anything, we want to.”
Started last October, the Angel Albums project has given out 11 albums, but Hanson said she believes within a year — when word branches out — the number might reach 75.
Each album includes scrapbook pages for photos, letters and other private mementos, with extra space for families to do with them what they please. The group leaves one album for each gender with the hospital, and they can give it to the family if they lose a child, Hanson said.
“The tough times aren’t necessarily between (9 a.m.-5 p.m.), sometimes the worst are late at night,” she said. “It’s so difficult to talk about, so many don’t. When they’re ready, then they’ll maybe want to do something like this.”
Angel Albums works with six hospitals in South Dakota — Avera Sacred Heart in Yankton, as well as Madison, Watertown, Brookings, Vermillion and Sanford Palliative Care in Sioux Falls.
However, there are other ways organizers work with families.
Trondhjem Lutheran Church in Volin, where Mellem is a member, recently helped out with donations in memory of Tanna Knobbe, a young girl who passed away nearly a month ago.
“We weren’t sure what to do for someone who lost a child, but we wanted to carry on her memory,” Mellem said. “She had a few good months. We were trying to think of ideas to help support the family, and she mentioned Angel Albums.
“I hadn’t even thought of something like that, but it was a great idea.”
Though the group has not yet received much feedback from album recipients, it expects to eventually, Mellem said.
“It’s a small church, but this has gone way beyond anything we dreamed,” she said. “Every little bit helps. It’s hard to sit down and do something like this after a loss.”
Hanson said the group has already received five or six additional requests, and in time, will probably need more albums. “It is a need, and as this gets out and more people hear about it, we’ll probably need more,” she said. “It all just depends.”