I'm here. You're there.
It is much easier to buy gifts for someone who is celebrating than it is for someone who is grieving. Birthdays, a new baby, anniversaries. Those occasions are pretty easy to shop for because those are fun gifts to buy. It's super awkward and hard to comfort someone who has lost a loved one. Besides the stores at local funeral homes, there aren't many venues that carry a variety of thoughtful pinches to give to someone who is grieving.
In my post entitled Saying Goodbye, I wrote about saying goodbye to people who have passed away and I included some thoughtful pinches that I have given in the past. In another post, I wrote entitled Return to Sender , I shared my wish to still send my dad cards whenever I thought about him. Lately, since I can't buy him cards, I have been writing to my dad in a journal including thoughts that I would write to him as if he was still alive. I shared this ritual with my gift-giving friend Christy and she said that she gives a tower of items to someone she cares about who is going thru a loss. She starts with a sympathy card and places it on top of a blank journal and then puts both the card and the journal on top of a small box (the size of a regular shoebox). Christy hopes that the journal will be used to jot down things they miss about the person who died and that the box will hold small treasures and mementos. I told Christy that we need to sell these items because there are many that want to buy gifts for this occasion. People are always willing to donate to a charitable cause in the name of the deceased and/or bring food to the family. However, we know people also like to give a little something to the person who has to carry on without them.
At my launch party, which I am now affectionately re-naming my "Letting You Know What I Am Up To" party, each guest brought $10. The money went towards a sympathy card, an "I'm here. You're There." journal and a handkerchief.
My kids wanted me to have totally cool "merch". My daughter says that my "merch" is old- fashioned. But I decided that if I was going to sell any merchandise, I would sell these journals because of their meaningful purpose. When I was trying to come up with a name for the journal, there were many names that I considered but I finally came up with: I'm here. You're there. I wanted the title of the journal to be positive and general enough that if people believe in heaven, then heaven is their "there". If they don't believe in heaven, it's wherever they want "there" to be. All the journal titles that we came up with that had the word "miss" in it seemed redundant to me. I think we all miss our loved ones and so it's a given. Plus, I want the journal to hold thoughts and wishes that are current and in real time which is why "I'm here." implies that life is still going on for the journal keeper. For now, the title of the journal is still a work in progress and the design of the actual journal is still in the planning phases. For the party, I just provided basic, lined paper journals but I can't wait to have a title embossed or printed on the cover. Inside the journal, on the cover page, I want to print "For memories and news that you want to share with those who have gone before you." My hope is to sell my own designed journals at local gift shops, funeral homes, Esty and later, in retail shops.
After I told all my friends what I was doing, where I was heading and what I was still figuring out about Thoughtful Pinch, I received some feedback. Positive feedback and not so positive. Which is EXACTLY what I needed and wanted. Fortunately, I did not receive any negative feedback about the journals. In fact, many complimented me on the journal idea for sympathy thoughtful pinches. I think my friends appreciated the opportunity to choose a sympathy card that resonated best with them and pick the color of journal they liked best. This hands-on experience was important for me to have at my party because I wanted to give a preview of the quarterly parties that I will be hosting. I will call these parties the "Get Shit Done" parties. Those who came to my birthday party ate, drank and then went home with a thoughtful pinch ready to give away. I have a feeling my GSD parties will be pretty popular.
It may seem ironic that I hosted a joyful birthday party, but sent home goodie bags that contained the sympathy cards, journals and handkerchiefs. I know it's awkward and I know it's hard - but sooner or later, my friends will need to comfort someone who is grieving. I'm glad they will have a thoughtful pinch ready to give to them. Some people would consider that in itself, a goodie.