On August 26, 2006, one day after my 30th birthday, I survived a miscarriage — and I use the word “survive” rather loosely. Without an ounce of grace or decorum, I did little but continue breathing in between fits of anger, sadness, and self-loathing throughout most of my 30th year.
I remember saying to my husband, “I wish it were a year from now. I wish I was on the other side of this.”
What I didn’t know then was how I’d mourn my due date, the anniversary of my loss, and all the foggy time in between. I didn’t know just how hard my heart would have to work to convince my head that my baby was more than just a jumble of very sad months — she was real. But perhaps worst of all, I didn’t know just how isolating my loss would feel.
My miscarriage remained so much a part of me that when I miscarried again years later, I knew better than to wish for time to pass. So instead, I wished for strength, knowing just how much I was going to need it.
That’s precisely the mission behind Stay Strong Mom, an online community and gift box business designed for mothers who have recently endured a loss. It was founded by writer and fellow Babble contributor Chaunie Brusie, who as a former OB nurse and miscarriage survivor, understands firsthand the grief and isolation child-loss can bring.
“With my first loss, I actively denied myself permission to grieve, telling myself [that] the loss ‘didn’t really count’ and I didn’t have a right to be sad,” she tells Babble.
But her loss did count; it counted more than she could have ever imagined. And when she miscarried for the second time, she knew it would take all the courage she could muster to continue walking through her grief.
That’s when Brusie’s oldest daughter designed a coffee mug for her with the words “Stay Strong Mom” emblazoned across the front. It was from there that Brusie’s healing journey began. She understood that mending her broken heart would take strength. She also believed that “no one should have to go through the hard parts of motherhood alone.”
So she put her passion into action by finding creative ways to support women in their time of loss — and so, Stay Strong Mom was born.
Now with an online community, a podcast, and a meaningful gift box that offers friends and family a tangible way to encourage their loved ones, powerful messages of hope are reaching the women who need them most.
When I suffered my own losses, some people sent sympathy cards, some sent flowers, and others, well, did nothing.
“Pregnancy loss is so personal and so different,” Brusie explains, “that it can be hard to know what to do.”
It really is. I’ve struggled with how to best support the women I love in times of such personal grief. It’s so nice to know that the Stay Strong Mom gift box exists as a sensitive way to honor and respect another woman’s loss journey.
“I feel like there is something powerful about receiving something physical during hard times of motherhood,” Brusie shares. “The gifts I received during my losses meant so much to me. I felt like they gave me permission to grieve, and thus, finally start the process of healing. So much of how we live our lives as mothers today is digital … it’s just nice to have something physical to remind you that someone is thinking of you.”
I couldn’t agree more. When faced with my own empty arms and broken heart, I found great comfort in tangible items that acknowledged my connection to my baby.
And that’s just what the Stay Strong Mom gift box does by offering tender reminders of strength and community. Each specially-curated item within the gift box was handmade by a woman who has experienced her own loss, and the proceeds from the sale of each gift box supports women in need facing medical bills after their loss.
Brusie tells Babble, “A gift like this is a physical reminder that you are not alone, and that not only have other mothers been through this, but that they have hope to share what’s on the other side.”
Knowing loss has a way of connecting us all, the mission of the Stay Strong Mom is simple:
“I wanted to show that being ‘strong’ isn’t about getting through something hard alone, but that strength can be found through each other, in sharing our losses and our grief and our hope and our stories,” she says.
As for Brusie’s kids, helping mothers is a family affair. “[My kids] absolutely LOVE packing all the boxes and helping them get ready to ship out. It’s become exactly what I hoped it would be: a hands-on family project to get them involved in giving back,” she explains.
Brusie’s 10-year-old daughter has already received the Stay Strong Mom message loud and clear.
“It’s not just a little business,” she says, “it’s to help mothers get through hard times when losing loved ones.”
To learn more about how you can help a woman through her time of loss, visit the Stay Strong Mom.