Emily and Kevin Turner turned the grief that swept over them as they held their lifeless newborn daughter into a mission to help others facing the devastating loss of a child and to honor the memory of their stillborn daughter, Magdelena (Maggie).
“Maggie changed my mission in life, to help guide others, to help others learn to walk with grief,” Emily said.
The couple started Maggie’s Light, a nonprofit that raises funds for bereavement kits that include comforting books, a handmade blanket, journals and more for families who have lost a child. They recently donated bereavement kits and a cuddle cot for stillborn babies to Saint Joseph East through the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. The cuddle cots are valued at $3,000 each.
Debbie Gibbons, RN, a labor and delivery nurse at Saint Joseph East, runs the hospital’s bereavement program, which she started in 1999.
No other Lexington hospital has a bereavement program as extensive as Saint Joseph East, Gibbons said. They offer a prayer service and burial for miscarried babies every other month at Calvary Cemetery. Since the service began in 2015, more than 500 remains have been buried. They also offer palliative care to families who have received a diagnosis that is life limiting to their baby.
“Emily has been able to take that pain, that sadness and really keep moving forward with it,” Gibbons said. “Not everybody is able to do that. It takes a special person.”
Emily said her faith in God helped her through her pain, and she shares that with others who are in similar situations. In addition to Maggie, who would be 5 this year, Emily and her husband have three kids, Vaughn, 16, Morgan, 4, and Isaiah, 3.
“If I have a mom who is struggling a bit, I can connect her to Emily and Emily will be able to talk with her and offer encouragement,” Gibbons said.
Maggie’s Light is now raising money to make more bereavement kits available at every KentuckyOne hospital. She hopes to provide these kits next to the Birthing Center at Saint Joseph London.