GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sitting around their kitchen table, Brett and Kellie Zammitt pack one box at a time.
“It makes me feel like I have just so much purpose in being her mom,” said Kellie Zammitt.
Each box is filled with thoughtful mementos, like a canvas for footprints, a swaddle with a personal note, and a stuffed bear.
“We kind of poured our grief into this,” said Brett Zammitt.
The goal is to give items that allow parents to remember their child.
“I want this to make leaving the hospital easier, but also I want it to provide memories for a lifetime because it’s such a difficult, traumatic experience,” said Kellie Zammitt.
Last December, the Grand Rapids couple started “Memories from Monroe,” which is named after their stillborn daughter and provides memory boxes to hospitals for grieving families suffering from pregnancy and infant loss.
“We’ve never thought about starting our own business before, taking that leap, taking that risk, and both of instantly were like, ‘Yes,’” said Brett Zammitt. “We need to do this not only for ourselves but for everybody West Michigan.”
According to Kellie, her pregnancy was “perfect” until a COVID-19 diagnosis at six months. She says complications from the virus led to Monroe’s death.
“It was the greatest day of my life meeting her, and then at the same time it was the worst day of my life,” said Kellie Zammitt.
Since the nonprofit organization began, 65 boxes have been donated to Butterworth Hospital and Saint Mary’s.
It’s a memory no parent wants, but the Zammitts hope the boxes help other people with their pain like it did for them.
“There’s no amount of pictures that I could have that would be enough, or there’s no amount of mementos that could be enough,” said Kellie Zammitt.
The family says each moment is too precious not to remember.
“When I left the hospital, I did not think that having a footprint stamped on an ornament or a handprint stamped on a canvas would make any sort of difference in the future, but as time went on through my grief process, I really realized that those things are some things that I cherish the most,” said Kellie Zammitt.
To donate and help Memories from Monroe, click here.