Cori Salchert of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, has devoted most of her career to easing the transition between life and death, working as both a maternity nurse and a hospice care provider.
Although she and her husband have eight biological children of their own, they’ve been taking in foster kids and other little ones in need for decades. In each case, they shower them with all the love and affection they deserve!
While working in maternity and hospice care, Cori felt especially drawn to parents who wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital cradling their newborns. She saw their broken hearts and knew she had to do something.
“I found myself drawn to helping these families,” she told Today. “Where many obstetrics nurses prefer not to work with dying babies, I saw a need to make the hospital experiences of these women less traumatic — not by fixing what was broken — but by handling them with care instead of rushing out of the room because their grief made me uncomfortable.”
Soon, Cori started a nonprofit called Hope After Loss Organization. The incredible outreach program aims to provide support, care, and hope to parents who have lost infants.
Yet it wasn’t until Cori and her family met Emmalynn that the course of their lives changed forever.
When they received a call about a 2-week-old infant whose family had abandoned her without even giving her a name, they didn’t hesitate to take her in. Cori named her Emmalynn and began showering her with love. Unfortunately, the precious little one wasn’t expected to survive for long; she was born without the right or left hemisphere of her brain and could only respond to painful stimuli.
For the next 50 days, Cori gave Emmalynn everything: a home, a family, and the soothing sound of a mother’s lullaby. Then, during a cuddle session when she was singing to Emmalynn, the baby took her final breath.
“She’d left this world hearing my heartbeat,” Cori said later. “She didn’t suffer, she wasn’t in pain, and she most certainly wasn’t alone. It was painful initially. Gradually, we were able to see the opportunity to hold her through this life and as she entered the next solely as a gift.”
Their family found Charlie next in 2014. The little boy has brain damage that makes leading a normal life impossible, but Cori has enveloped him in so much love that he became a miracle!
He has lived far longer than his doctors first predicted. In fact, he recently celebrated his 6th birthday!
While caring for these children sounds impossibly difficult and heartbreaking to many, Cori said she feels blessed to provide each terminal infant with the comfort they need.
“We invest deeply, and we ache terribly when these kids die, but our hearts are like stained glass windows,” she explained. “Those windows are made of broken glass which has been forged back together, and those windows are even stronger and more beautiful for having been broken.”
Some people seem to be angels on earth, and this hero is definitely one of them. Thank you, Cori, for helping these children slip from one life to the next. We wish you peace on your continued mission!
Share this story to thank the selfless mom for every life she has treasured.
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