Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: John Lloyd and Captured Light Images
By Meg Steinitz
We live in a country that does not, as a whole, grieve well. Many of us avoid the subject of death and loss in conversation and find it easier to avoid our grieving acquaintances and coworkers because we don’t know what to say. I was recently talking to a man who lost his wife to cancer last summer. Towards the end of our conversation, he remarked, “Most people run the other way when you mention death.” Loss is an incredibly painful and unavoidable reality, and much of the sadness is borne alone by those experiencing it. CDC statistics tell us that each year in the US, there are approximately 24,000 stillbirths and 24,000 infant deaths. Clinically speaking, a stillbirth is the death of a baby during pregnancy or childbirth, occurring after twenty weeks gestation.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) is an organization founded in 2005 that provides the gift of remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. They train, educate, and mobilize professional-quality photographers to provide beautiful heirloom portraits to families facing the untimely death of an infant. The founders believe that the photographs serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring the child’s legacy.
John Lloyd is the owner of Captured Light Images and has volunteered for NILMDTS since its inception in 2005. Originally from Reno and now based in Salt Lake City, UT, John has had many experiences that he considers quite profound. “When you lose a baby, most of us don’t have any idea how hard that is or what it means. It’s hard to know what to say or how to help the parents grieve. It’s easy to feel like you said the wrong thing.” He has been present with hundreds of families during this time of profound sadness, and through his photos, they are able to begin their journey towards healing.
The work took on new meaning to him ten years ago when his own daughter lost twins at twenty weeks gestation. The babies were born alive, and the family spent 45 minutes with them before having to say goodbye. The photos taken by NILMDTS bring comfort to the family, and they hang on the wall with their other family photos. The family visits the twins’ graves on Christmas and comes together to honor them on their birthday. The twins are as much a part of their family as their other children and grandchildren. Although time has passed, the grief is still there and is a part of all of them.
In his years with NILMDTS, John has witnessed how differently everyone experiences grief. He has met parents who had several months to prepare for the loss as well as parents who arrived at the hospital expecting to bring home a healthy baby. He finds that many who initially thought the idea of photos too painful are later thankful to have them. Being able to look at a photograph or handprint after the shock has passed can help to make sense of the loss. He sees his work as an act of love for those parents and families.
NILMDTS, found at nowilaymedowntosleep.org, has over 1,700 volunteer photographers around the world. Their website includes information about their organization, as well as resources for those who are grieving or for those who are trying to help someone who is grieving the loss of a baby. In addition to NILMDTS, John is also involved with their local chapter of a national organization, Share. If you are grieving the loss of a baby, support is available at nationalshare.org.
John Lloyd is a Salt Lake City-based photographer who loves helping families preserve memories. He specializes in weddings, family portraits, and senior portraits, and is happy to travel to Reno, Lake Tahoe, Provo, and anywhere else that his services are needed. Please visit his website at capturedlightimages.zenfolio.com.
Meg Steinitz is a San Diego-based freelance writer and social worker who specializes in adoption and foster care. She loves bringing people together. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, photography, and eating cheese.