Filling Pages with Memories
Faribault Daily News
By Thomas E. Hammell
January 22, 2006

A group of local women gathered Saturday to help remember their deceased infants by making scrapbooks at the Kettering Real Estate building.

The group is affiliated with Infants Remembered In Silence and they try to gather once a month to make scrapbooks of babies they lost to miscarriage or in their infancy, though IRIS founder and executive director Diana Sundwall said the group is open to anyone who has had a child pass away.

"It's nice to be able to grieve," she said.

The women's scrapbooks contained everything from pictures to handprints and footprints, to poems, birth certificates and ultrasounds, she said. Mothers often document their pregnancies and do a lot of journaling.

"It also helps to write about the child," Sundwall said. The passing of time can make it hard to remember details and these books give a record of what took place.

Janelle Longest, who lost a child to miscarriage, said the experience is helpful for the mothers who have carried the children.

"I think the mother knows more than anybody," she said.

"It confirms that they were real and were alive," Sundwall said. Her child, Derek, was stillborn at full term in 1985. She has more pictures of him than many mothers have, which gave her more to work with for her scrapbook.

"A person has many feelings for their child and it's hard to put them into words," Longest said.

"We spend a lot of time talking about what we remember about our children," she said.

Marianne Vandereide of Owatonna said mothers often want to do something for their child. "It's something we can do for them," Vandereide said.

Linda Dusek of Medford said the scrapbooks can be good to remind her that her daughter is a part of her family's life, though it is not a subject often spoken about. She considers her daughter, Kayla, still a part of her family, to the point where she corrects people who say she has two children.

Dusek said she shows the scrapbook to anyone with questions about her child.

"I'm very open with her life," she said.

Sundwall said she has had people come to her house specifically to look at her scrapbook. She said if all of them are doing this kind of scrapbooking everyone in the group is curious about what other people's pictures are.

"That's part of the process," she said.

Dusek said that some of the pictures with tubes coming out of her child can make people uncomfortable.

"Scrapbooked, the pictures are more gentle," Sundwall said.

Members of the group also help give each other ideas for their scrapbooks.

"I got to the point where I didn't know what to do next," Sundwall said. Eventually someone looked at her book and advised her to change the color of a page, then she knew what to do.

Natalie Crooks of Faribault started the scrapbooking group. When her son died, a friend introduced her to scrapbooking and she started a book.

"People definitely showed interest and wanted to do it," she said.

Jessie Donahue of Morristown said the scrapbooking sessions are safe for the mothers.

"You don't have to be afraid to show your pictures," she said.

Sundwall started IRIS in Faribault 19 years ago. Since then the organization's mission has expanded to include providing bereavement packets to parents to taking hand- and footprints of babies at the hospital.