Nonprofit Bodie’s Light Helps Parents in Thurston County Cope with Loss

From left: Carrie Molloy, Jessica Gagnon and Scott Gagnon with Bodie's Boxes at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. Photo courtesy: Bodie's Light

It’s truly the unthinkable. No one goes into the hospital planning for the loss of a child through stillbirth. When tragedy does occur, you are overwhelmed. “Nobody prepares for their baby to die,” shares Jessica Gagnon, who lost her son, Bodie through stillbirth. “We were definitely caught off guard.” She adds she was bombarded with questions by doctors and social workers, things they had not planned on at all. Instead of making plans to bring Bodie home, they were being asked about having an autopsy and burial plans. “We did not have any thought of wanting to make memories with him in the hospital, because that was our only time to have with him and so, in hindsight, we wish we had done so much more.” To help other parents avoid their regrets, Jessica and her husband Scott started Bodie’s Light, a Thurston County nonprofit that helps families going through the loss of a child through stillbirth create those much-needed memories at the hospital.

Support for Parents who Lost a Child Through Stillbirth

Started in 2021, Bodie’s Light is named after Jessica and Scott’s son. After their loss, Jessica joined parent support groups on Facebook and learned of many things she wished she had done with her own child – taken more photos and videos, read a book, bathed him. “We had five parents come and hold him and only one picture that I took because I wasn’t in that mindset,” shares Jessica. “We don’t have any pictures with him with the rest of our parents and I didn’t think to take videos.” She also learned about a nonprofit group called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep that comes in and takes professional photos for free. For Scott and Jessica, it was too late.

Jessica and Scott wanted a way for Bodie to grow and be remembered by their family and friends, and they found helping others helped them cope with their own loss. Bodie’s Light helps those facing the same tragedy know ways to make memories while they are still at the hospital through Bodie’s Boxes. Donated to hospitals, nurses give them to parents suffering a loss. The boxes contain a book to read to the baby; a glass jar for a lock of hair; two pocket bears, one for the family to keep and one to leave with the baby if the family wishes; three Morse code bracelets that read “until we meet again”; a hand/foot mold kit;  ink pad for hand and footprints; “In Memory of You: A Guided Baby Memory Journal” for those suffering the loss of a child; a $30 UberEats or GrubHub gift card; a list of ideas to do in the hospital to make memories; a list of resources for after they leave the hospital; and a handwritten card. Each box has a value of around $150 and is given absolutely free to parents in need.

a box full of gift items
Bodie’s boxes are a free gift given to parents suffering a loss through stillbirth from the Thurston County nonprofit Bodie’s Light. Photo courtesy: Bodie’s Light

Jessica and her mom make all the Morse code bracelets by hand. Jessica was given Morse code bracelets when she was at the hospital, and after asking in online support groups, she learned it was something many parents would love to have. “If there’s anyone out there who makes bracelets for a living and wants to help us with that, maybe we can partner with them,” says Jessica.

Bodie’s Light Spreads Awareness for Stillbirths in Thurston County

Another part of Bodie’s Light is Bodie’s Rocks. The first year of the nonprofit, Jessica’s aunt painted a bunch of rocks for their fundraiser golf tournament. “We wanted to spread, one awareness and two, Bodie’s name, for people to recognize it and things like that,” shares Scott. The rocks had a hashtag, Bodie’s name or his birthday on it, and people were encouraged to take them. “Then we went to thinking, what if we put our website on it and then encourage people when they go on vacation or camping, whatever, to leave it someplace, and then hopefully somebody else will find it. And then they’ll look go to the website.” The website has a place for people who do find a rock to put a tag on a map, so people can see how far Bodie’s Rocks have traveled.

a bunch of colorfully painted rocks on a white table
Bodie’s Rocks are a way for Bodie’s Light to spread awareness about stillbirths, and to keep Bodie Trace Gagnon’s memory alive.. Photo courtesy: Bodie’s Light

Supporting Bodie’s Light

Monetary donations are extremely important for Bodie’s Light to continue to provide their boxes to local hospitals. Currently, their boxes have been donated to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Lacey, St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw. You can donate at any time on the Bodie’s Light website. All donations are tax deductible. “Liking our Facebook page and Instagram account and sharing our posts is a free way you can support us too,” adds Jessica.

They also have an annual Invitational Scramble Golf Tournament in May that includes raffles and a silent auction. Businesses can sponsor the tournament or donate prizes for the raffles and the auction.  Of course, playing in the tournament supports them too! In October, join them for their awareness 5k Fun Run, which happens around Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day each year.

For more information, visit the Bodie’s Light website.

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