Following loss of youngster, Grand Rapids couple creates nonprofit to help grieving families

GRAND RAPIDS, me. – Brett and Kellie Zammitt are sitting at their kitchen table, each packing a box.

“I feel like I have so much sense in being her mother,” said Kellie Zammitt.

Each box is filled with thoughtful memorabilia, such as a canvas for footprints, a wrap with a personal note, and a stuffed bear.

“We kind of poured our grief into it,” said Brett Zammitt.

The aim is to give items that parents can use to remember their child.

“I want this to make it easier for you to leave the hospital, but I also want it to have memories for a lifetime because it’s such a difficult, traumatic experience,” said Kellie Zammitt.

Last December, the Grand Rapids couple launched “Memories from Monroe,” named after their stillborn daughter, which provides hospitals with memory boxes for grieving families suffering from pregnancy and child loss.

“We’ve never thought about starting our own business, taking the plunge, taking this risk, and both of them immediately said ‘yes’,” said Brett Zammitt. “We need to do this not just for ourselves, but for everyone in West Michigan.”

By the time she was diagnosed with COVID-19, her pregnancy was “perfect” after six months, according to Kellie. She says complications from the virus resulted in Monroe’s death.

“It was the biggest day of my life meeting her and it was also the worst day of my life,” said Kellie Zammitt.

Since the charity 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 will help other people with their pain, as it did for them.

“There isn’t a lot of pictures that I could have that would be enough, or there isn’t a lot of memorabilia that might be enough,” said Kellie Zammitt.

The family says every moment is too precious not to be remembered.

“When I left the hospital I didn’t think a footprint on an ornament or a handprint on a canvas would make a difference in the future, but over time I really realized that these are the things I value most,” said Kellie Zammitt.

Click here to donate and help Monroe Reminders.

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