One late winter morning in 2005 a gentleman called the portrait photography studio where I work to arrange for someone to take photos of his newborn son later that day. Unfortunately there was no availability on such short notice. When the receptionist asked what the rush was, the baby’s father told her that his son was going to be removed from life support later that evening.Of course the photographer made time for that family. The resulting images were sweetly beautiful—portraits of a “sleeping” babe in his parents’ arms. Of course the baby had slipped into eternity when most of the portraits were taken, but the family was left with a lasting memento that they could share with family and friends.
Within months, the baby’s mother and that photographer created a non-profit organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS). It had such a humble beginning: one photographer, one imaging artist, and I was honored to be the the volunteer writer.
Since then, the organization has grown and thrived and now has a full-time staff, over 5,000 volunteer photographers, and is active in the USA and 19 other countries.
NILMDTS provides infant bereavement photography services to families suffering the loss of a baby. The volunteer photographers conduct sensitive and private portrait sessions in a hospital or hospice setting and give the parents professionally retouched, archival DVD or CDs from which they can print portraits.
And all of this is done free of charge. What grace!
The month of October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and NILMDTS is holding it's annual Fund Drive for six weeks, ending October 31st.
If you are in a place to make even a small contribution to NILMDTS, please know that doing so will continue to allow the organization to provide improved resources, training, communication, and other tools necessary in support of their amazing contingent of professional photographers who provide the gift of free remembrance portraiture to families in need.