Warning: this post contains anecdotes and information concerning infant loss, which could be upsetting to some.
Sometimes, one person's unimaginable grief can turn into something immensely positive for others who may be going through the same experience. That was the case for a couple of grieving parents who recently opened up about tragically losing their infant son to SIDS - and what they were able to do to ease the pain of his loss.
India Gibson, 25, and Jamie Hayes, 32, experienced every parent's worst nightmare late one night while on holiday in Liverpool, UK when they discovered that their six-month-old son had tragically passed away in his crib.
"We were just in pieces. Toby was our life," recalled Gibson. "He was completely healthy before we lost him."
To make matters worse, the couple had to then figure out how to get home with their son so they could give him a proper goodbye. When they were told it would cost $650, they set up a GoFundMe page to help with the expense.
What happened next changed everything.
It didn't take long for donations to start pouring in. In addition to exceeding their goal by raising over $2,600, a charity called Cariad Angel Gowns heard about their situation and gifted them a device called a "cuddle cot". The portable cot, which uses a specialized cooling system to help preserve a baby's body after they pass away, was going to allow the couple to spend extra time with Toby and bring him home so their family could say goodbye.
"We were in Liverpool for six days and we had him at home with us for four days so in total, we had him for ten extra days," said Gibson.
Gibson went on to recall how important it was during the first few days after his death that Toby was not immediately taken away from them, and that they had time to hold him, kiss him and tell him how much they loved him.
"If we not had the cuddle cot, Toby would have gone straight to the funeral director's and we would have only been able to see him at scheduled times," she said.
Gibson and Hayes are paying it forward, thanks to the kindness and generosity of strangers during one of the most tragic moments of their lives. Their aim is to help other parents who are going through neonatal loss, and to date have raised nearly $13,000 through a GoFundMe page which works to give other access to cuddle cots.
“Our wish is for other parents experiencing loss to have a chance to spend more time with their baby, give them love and make memories before saying goodbye," said Gibson.