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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Foundation eases Tucson families’ grief

The death of a newborn is a tragic event, and the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep foundation works with Tucson Medical Center, University Medical Center and others to provide comfort during one of the worst moments in a parent’s life.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep began with a Colorado woman who saw the need for this kind of service after losing her child, according to Diane Graham, the public relations coordinator with the organization.

For families who have just lost their children, photographing their child provides a critical step in acknowledging what happened and helps families to heal, Graham said.

The organization now works with 7,000 volunteers in the U.S. and 25 other countries. Students at the UA have been among these ranks, helping grieving families to cope with the loss of a child.

The idea at first may seem eerie to those outside of the service, but not a single family who has been offered the service has turned it down, according to Lisa-Beth Earle. Earle is a UA photography student and photographer for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, who has worked with the regional manager of the foundation in Tucson.

“”Really the only thing you can do to preserve that fleeting moment is to take a picture,”” Earle said. “”It’s not just a snapshot of parents with a deceased child. It’s another part of life. You take all these pictures of life, living and smiling. Why can’t you take pictures of death? You just need to remember the person however you can, and these are the only photos they’ll have.””

A DVD of the soft-set black and white heirloom photos provides a digital memory for families such as the Suddarths.

Rachael Suddarth, a speech, language and hearing sciences doctoral student, and Tim Suddarth, a minister at Damascus Road, a church on campus, used the service a year and a half ago for their daughter Aurora.

“”We were lucky to be at TMC,”” said Rachael Suddarth. “”It was nice to have a better quality of picture and clearly that would have never been possible without (the foundation).””

The Suddarths noted that it helped them grieve and speak about their daughter to extended family and friends.

“”There needs to be that cement,”” said Tim Suddarth. “”That makes it part of your story.””

Rachael Suddarth, like many in her situation, thought, “”Who has children die? Who does that happen to?”” In actuality, roughly one in 115 families experience the death of a child.

TMC noticed a high influx of people interested in the service, which could be due to a lack of proper bereavement services,

Graham has worked with grieving families who sought help from the foundation. She said she noticed it was the little things that the photographers, editors and managers did that helped families acknowledge the death and begin to heal.

Graham was involved with nearly 35 sessions last year and urges photography students to join the service.

“”They just thought, ‘Wow, what a service,'”” said Graham. “”And it just grew from there.””

The organization relies mostly on donations and a $25 membership fee. Providing the service at no cost, the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation accepts community donations for its private portrait sessions.

The foundation has been branching out to hospices, funeral homes and other places that may not be familiar with it in order to spread awareness about its services.


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