Couple Makes Heartbreaking Video to Honor Their Daughter Who Died in the Womb

National   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Aug 1, 2015   |   2:47PM   |   Washington, DC

In November 2013, Billy Jack and Sara Brawner were thrilled to find out they were expecting a baby. The Daily Signal reports that the couple had previously suffered a miscarriage and believed their new pregnancy was a miracle. However, their preborn daughter, Willa Rose, died in utero when she was 34-weeks old.

After her death, Sara delivered Willa and spent seven hours with her before letting her go. She also said they allowed friends and family to hold her and take pictures. Later Billy Jack and Sara held a funeral and created a video tribute in honor of Willa’s life. In the tribute, Sara says, “It was a Thursday, I remember. I felt her kick around 9 or 10 in the morning, and I didn’t feel her kick for the rest of the day.”

Billy Jack and Sara created the video because they believe Willa’s life had meaning even though it was cut very short. Sara explained, “An unborn baby is a baby, and that is a life. They have worth and value. Losing a child is so terrible and so hard.”



Now the couple says that they have found hope in their faith, and in an unexpected way Willa’s death has drawn them closer together. Tragically, since her passing the couple has lost two more babies to miscarriage. Watch their beautiful tribute to Willa in the video below.

Of Thorns in Roses: The Story of Willa from The McKellars on Vimeo.


“If we’re hopeful it’s because things will someday be made right, and all things sad will come untrue,
and darkness will be swallowed up in light, and joy will run rampant and all will be well.”

– BJ Brawner

When faced with heartbreaking loss, how do you respond?

I think the answer reveals something about who we are: what we are made of, how we see the world, where we find our strength. In the case of Sara and BJ, who lost their baby before she was born, it is clear that they draw their strength from Someone other than themselves. I, along with many others, watched as they navigated the unknown terrain of grief with honesty, tenderness, and hope. After they became pregnant, the three of us thought it would be special to make a little birth film telling the story about the pregnancy and birth and all the attending excitement and happiness. Having filmed their wedding several years ago and subsequently becoming friends with them, it seemed like a natural next step. So I was especially shocked and saddened to hear that Willa had died at 34 weeks. After the funeral, the three of us decided that we would still make a film, but it would be a different story – still Willa’s story, but we would explore what it means to have hopeful expectation met with stinging disappointment. Fifteen months after her birth Willa’s story, as told through her amazing parents, is here to provide you some inspiration. Again, in the words of BJ:

“We want to be the sorta folks who get their hopes up. We want to feel the weight of this world in its entirety, in its beauty as well as its brokenness. We want to laugh from our bellies and weep from our souls. And we can do that because our hope and our peace and our happiness is not here—not in our babies (nor in each other, nor in our house, nor in good food, nor in travel…). These are all good things that, although marred with brokenness, serve as signposts that point us back to the King and his Kingdom. We live in Advent for all that it’s worth, waiting for the Christmas feast when all will be made right.”