‘Butterfly Room’ aims to provide comfort, healing and peace to families dealing with infant loss

NORFOLK, Va. - It's a sad statistic. Twenty-five babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth each month inside Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Many of those families can't escape the cries, joy and celebration of parents welcoming their first bundle of joy -- until now.

A small room called The Butterfly Room is now open at the hospital. The room features muted purple and mauve tones, soft lighting, fountains and comfortable seating for families that need a private place to grieve.

It also features a cuddle cot, or caring cradle, that features a small cooling device to allow families more time with their baby before saying goodbye.

"It helps us to heal by helping others. To let them feel they are not alone -- that's healing to us," said Heather and Demetri Wilson.

For the past decade, the Wilsons have found a sense of comfort through stitchery, making angel gowns, burial outfits for stillborns, through their charity Kennedy's Angel Gowns.

Their work is personal to them. On August 17, 2009, after 25 hours of labor, Kennedy Milan Wilson was born silently, a 5-pound angel baby with no heartbeat.

"It was the hardest day of my life, something I'll never forget and continue to heal from," Heather said. "It's still so vivid, it feels like yesterday."

After the unimaginable loss, they had no private calming place in the hospital to grieve.

"The not-so-happy moments were being in a hospital and hearing the cries of other babies," Heather said.

Today, the family continues to channel their pain and passions of helping others into purpose through creating The Butterfly Room.

"She is in our hearts; she is in this room," Demetri said. "I feel her presence in here; you are overcome with emotions."

"This room to us is a place of healing and peace," Heather added. "The colors are soothing and represent everything families need at that difficult time."

It's a gift that will help families in Kennedy's honor for generations to come.

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