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  • Writer's pictureJaime Clemmer

I don't know when it happened, but at some point my husband Jack and I found ourselves talking to a lot of people about helping out their other friends who were grieving. We dubbed ourselves "grief ambassadors." People would reach out to us when someone they knew was experiencing tragedy and the conversation would go something like this:

Friend: "Hey, can I ask you about something. My other friend is going through something-it's not as bad as what you all are dealing with-but it is pretty bad {insert their specific comments about the death of a parent, a sticky divorce, death of a spouse, the loss of a their company, general malaise, a child leaving for college, whatever}. They are so sad and I don't know what to do for them. What do you appreciate when you are having a particular rough day? "


"Hey, can I ask you about something. My other friend is going through something-it's not as bad as what you all are dealing with-but it is pretty bad {insert their specific comments about the death of a parent, a sticky divorce, death of a spouse, the loss of a their company, general malaise, a child leaving for college, whatever}. What do you wish people had done or would do for you? "

Our emotions would inevitably be put in check as we were regularly reminded that we did not have a corner on the market. We found ourselves often reassuring friends and even strangers that while yes, our grief was probably a different type of grief, and yes, perhaps magnified in a different way, but ultimately, grief was everywhere and it was heavy, regardless of the reason.

We found ourselves, for a variety of reasons beyond our control, grieving very publicly. As a result we had a lot of people privately messaging us or telling us directly how grateful they were to see us grieve. It was almost like our public expressions made their grieving acceptable, and allowed them to acknowledge their own grief, over whatever it might have been. Our public grief also seemed to allow people a chance to ask questions.

Before Sawyer died I had experienced very little by way of death. It was trial by RAGING fire. We didn't know the rules for grieving, and I am grateful we didn't. As it turns out, the "rules" are stupid.

When I committed to try and launch this brand my husband sincerely asked, "Are you trying to make money from this website?" My answer was no. Not primarily. I have bigger goals than money. I want to build a community of people who can feel the strength that comes in knowing that other people have their own grief. I wanted to build a community of people who know that it is okay to grieve in whatever way, for however long, in whatever private or public means necessary to help them heal (barring all obvious law breaking and morality bending actions, of course). I want to build a community that understands the "healing" means different things to different people and everyone gets to define that word for themselves.

In order to build that community I want to have a symbol that can, over time, be recognizable. Like the various colored ribbons or the rainbow that symbolize certain causes. I knew the name of our little band of misfits would stem from our family motto (a story for another post, deriving from a vary critical moment in the hospital with Sawyer). I believe with my whole soul that there are things seemingly impossible in this life with which we are called to endure, but they do not have to break us. We came awfully close at many times, which is why we needed the reminder. We verbally had to repeat our mantra, "we are not broken," over and over again in the beginning. It was like we had to remind our brain not to shut down. When other people would say things to us like, "seeing you survive this helps me realize I can survive {insert trial or tragedy}," we were strengthened. We were strengthened by those who have survived their children dying. Strengthened by people who have been betrayed by their partners in terrible ways. Strengthened by people who know death and dying more than anyone in this life should know. Strengthened by those who are "not broken" but who are willing to expose and share their own heartbreak and near brokenness.

Grief so many times hides because of shame. I don't get it. I try but I don't get it. I know people who want their grief to be completely private. I respect their desire. If I hadn't been denied that opportunity myself, maybe I would be one of those people. But I had much of my sorrow splayed out for the world to see from the moment Sawyer was rushed to the hospital from his 6th grade history class. So while yes, much of my heavy grief comes when no one else is around-in the shower, on my pillow, in the quiet aisle of a grocery store, or the middle of my dreams- many of my tears have been shed where the world is watching. And it has taken time, but I am okay with that now. And I want other people to be okay with it too. I want the shame of tears to go away and the empathy of humanity to take its place.

My husband loves t-shirts that carry the symbol of a product but don't spell out what it is. Probably stems from his punk rock phase. It inspired the need for something discreet, thus our symbol within our name. When you see someone with our jagged heart on their purse, backpack, card, sign, necklace, wherever, treat that person with a little extra

grace. Offer some dignity. Be understanding. We should all be doing this anyway, I just thought a gentle reminder never hurt. Consider it the modern day version of the black ribbon around an arm. And if you are a griever yourself, you can silently nod, knowing you are not alone in your grief.

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Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Why are we selling stuff?

In an age where minimalism reigns supreme and across the board trends are moving towards everything being digital, why would I want to launch a brand of actual "stuff"? When Sawyer died we were shocked, to put it mildly. Never in my wildest nightmares did I consider my active, vibrant, extreme sports enthusiast child, would remain unconscious after a seizure started in his 6th grade history class and ultimately die from a ruptured AVM on the brain. Never. But it happened.

When it did, we were inconsolable. Looking back, I found that some of the things that helped me through my darkest moments were just that, "things." Things people gave me. A pocket sized bronze angel. A wooden plaque with the phrase "Our family is a circle of love and strength." A bracelet with the word "fearless" on it (a word that was the theme of Sawyer's Celebration of Life). A wonder woman necklace. Cards sent by people I love and strangers I had never met before. Tokens. Physical tokens that shared the sentiment, "I am grieving with you. You are not alone. Remember that even though I am not there, I am holding space for you. I am so sorry and words cannot convey my love." Reminders that I was not alone in my grief.

Enter, my passion for paper

I think people thought I had lost my mind when I said I wanted to sell cards made from actual paper.

Ask any of my friends and they will tell you I have always wanted to own my own business. Oprah says "Do what you are passionate about." So for years I would converse with friends about what business I should start. "Soups and Scoops," my imaginary ice cream and soup shop. My short lived "Trendy 10," a mobile boutique of ten trendy items a month for under $10. Even after Sawyer died I got the license for "Sawyer's Spot," my would be candy store/community gathering place. My passion was a passion to start a business, but you can't start a business without a business to start.

Turns out I had another passion that I never thought could feed a business. I love paper. All sorts of paper. Cards, wrapping paper, notepads, all of it. I can remember vividly as a child visiting my mom after school at her job in the mall selling non-alcoholic wines (yes, that was a real store) and spending hours at the sticker shop next door. As an adult, my favorite gifts are the ones packaged well, no matter the content. Thick shiny wrapping paper with a bow. Card with a weight or beautiful pattern. I love it all.

Mother's day 2019. I don't celebrate Mother's day anymore. Immediately after Sawyer died we didn't celebrate anything. As we slowly started accepting celebrations into our life (we still had three kids at home after all) we did so without vim or vigor. We were passive in our celebrations, often doing all we could to distance ourselves from the celebration while still allowing it to pass our doorstep. We hired someone to decorate our Christmas tree. We farmed out trick-or-treating to family at church. But Mother's day? It is technically "my" holiday so since it impacts no one else, I decided I didn't want to celebrate it. What I did want to do was to acknowledge it with the community of mourners I have met who also have had a child die. I went to the store and everything was all sunshine and unicorns. In a couple of more progressive stores there were a couple of "thinking of you" cards that sort of could work, but it made me mad. I wanted cards that said, "This sucks," or something that touched on the more genuinely soul sucking part of grief.

Cue the ah-ha moment. We had been sharing our grief journey with friends and other grievers using the hashtag #heartbrokenbutnotbroken. It became a family motto that we clung to when the waves of sadness were trying to drown us. It was based on a moment we shared as a family in the hospital as Sawyer was dying. When we spoke at a public event for organ donation we shared our message and it resonated with many people. Our family motto meshed with my lack of access to products I couldn't find and then I got the idea to launch a brand. Thoughtful products designed to acknowledge grief and honor resilience. My life motto was my lifeline, my passion. And my now, my business.

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