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Henderson County High School students and Methodist Health partner to supply bereavement boxes to parents in need

Henderson County High School students and Methodist Health partner to supply bereavement boxes to parents in need

A miscarriage/fetal death at the early stages of pregnancy is difficult for parents, grandparents and the whole family. Terri Nunn, BSN, RNC, Manager of Labor and Delivery/Nursery/NICU at Methodist Health, says, “Unfortunately, labor and delivery isn’t always a happy place to work. There are times when, instead of celebrating life with the family, we are mourning a loss with them.”

Rev. Mary Wrye, Director of Chaplaincy Services at Methodist Health, explained, “It is especially difficult when trying to decide how to respectfully lay a child to rest and the finances are just not there. To that end, some years ago the OB nurses at Methodist Health, at the leadership of Renee Croce, decided to have some bereavement boxes made. They were made and stained by the husband of one of the nurses out of scrap wood he had at home. They were beautiful. He made whatever size was needed and supplied them to parents as they were needed. The nurses thought that the baby also needed a soft blanket to encase them.”

Enter the Prayer Shawl Ministry at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church — a group of women who knit and crochet prayer shawls for the community. When asked if they would make small blankets to wrap the babies in as they are laid to rest in these boxes, they unanimously agreed to take on this special project.

In February, Rev. Wrye had the privilege of blessing the prayer shawls this group of women continues to create. They provide comfort and blessing to those who need an extra layer of support at St. Anthony’s Hospice, Methodist Health and military veterans in the community, among others. “One of the women in the group, Shelia Roberts, asked about the blankets and the bereavement boxes they softened,” explained Rev. Wrye. “I told her we were struggling with getting them made. The nurse whose husband had originally made the boxes had retired. The maintenance department at the Hospital had built a couple of boxes that were needed, but we needed someone who might be willing to make our boxes.”

Roberts, who works at Henderson County High School, talked to Tony Rutledge, who teaches construction/carpentry classes there. When he spoke to his class about being the supply source of our bereavement boxes, class members were, at first, hesitant.

Rutledge explained why they were needed and asked them what they would do if something ever happened to a baby of theirs, and how would they pay for it? Once the class realized the importance of the work they would be taking on, they heartily agreed. Not only did they make and stain boxes in all the sizes needed, the lids of the bereavement boxes are engraved with a cross. They have offered to make additional boxes as they are needed.

“We at Methodist Health are so very grateful to Sheila Roberts, Tony Rutledge and the students of the Henderson County High School construction class,” said Rev. Wrye. “Because of their kind hearts and generous spirits, parents who need help during an incredibly difficult time will have it.”

Photo 1: Left to right: Cullin Gardner (junior), Ian Cosby, (sophomore), Gabe Turner (sophomore) and Isaac Damrath (junior) are among some of the students from Henderson County High School’s Construction/Carpentry class that worked on the bereavement box project.

Photo 2: Left to right: Cullin Gardner (junior), Ian Cosby, (sophomore), Isaac Damrath (junior) and Gabe Turner (sophomore) work together on building bereavement boxes.

Photo 3: Gabe Turner (sophomore) cuts a piece of wood to be used for a bereavement box.

Photos 4: Left to right: Ian Cosby, (sophomore), Cullin Gardner (junior), Isaac Damrath (junior) and Gabe Turner (sophomore) pose with bereavement boxes that were built in their Construction/Carpentry class at Henderson County High School.