My First Sympathy Gift Sale
She broke eye contact as her head slumped down. The joyful customer I was conversing with suddenly had unwilling words stuck in her throat.
Our conversation turned to the awful reason she came into my gift shop. Her lips trembled through the words “…my friend’s son just jumped off a bridge.”
Silence. I became paralyzed. Even though I was well-versed in receiving comments and platitudes about my own brother’s suicide, I had nothing to offer this woman.
Everything came flooding back about my grief, and I froze thinking in the memories of that first week after Daniel’s death. I eventually came back to the present and remembered that I owned a gift store, and there was a person in need in front of me.
This customer was at my store to buy something, anything, that could show her support towards her grieving friend. I plucked up the courage to mention our newest product from a company called AFTER. At that time, I had just drilled the final brackets into the wall display that morning. I had worked on this ‘grief support candle’ concept for over a year, and today was the day I presented it to the public. And here was my first opportunity to talk about it. It was my own company and I didn’t know where to start. What a great employee I made.
The only thing that came to me was to be honest but not domineering. “When my brother killed himself, I needed something like this to get me through the hard times.” That’s all I could muster. If she seemed to want to know more, I’d tell her, I thought. That statement is hard to pass over; I think our curiosity gets the best of us. She listened, so I proceeded to tell her about the Love and Light Sympathy Box. The words finally came to me, and the more confident I became that this gift could help. Within moments, she was in tears (something that now happens so frequently, we have tissues near the display). I saw relief wash over her as she kept saying, “it’s perfect… it’s perfect,” in-between sniffles.
My first sale was for the mother of a young man who just committed suicide.
If that’s not a weird statement to read, I don’t know what is.
Selling a sympathy support candle / sympathy support box is bittersweet and complicated. Here’s why: I designed the Love and Light Sympathy Box for precisely this loss situation. While it works for many kinds of grief, loss from suicide is the most intended use. Every piece of the Sympathy Box was crafted for what my mother and I needed during our heavy grief after the suicide of my brother. I had been so excited to put my AFTER Sympathy Boxes on the shelf, to finally be ready for customers and sales, that I was struck disoriented and overwhelmed upon hearing the story about why she needed a sympathy gift.
It never occurred to me that practically all my sales would be like this.
Basically, every sympathy support candle box that sells means that someone has died. That is not a happy thought. Over the past year of selling grief candles, it has weighed on my heart. It’s been hard to celebrate the business’s successes because we deal in grief all day long. I was so excited to do something positive with my grief (FYI, one doesn’t need to do anything with their grief, it’s not a requirement) that I never planned for the long-term effect of being in grief all the time. I don’t know how grief counselors do it. It’s layered with loneliness and depression.
My sympathy gift, (bereavement gift, grief support box, memorial gift) helps people. YES. It helps grievers and their loved ones who want to support them. But it still weighed me down. Until a thought came to me – grief is the price we pay for love (more like an invoice due after the transaction of a life is over) but, each support candle sold is either from a loved one who wants to help their grieving friend, or someone buying it for themselves to deal with a loss. That’s love any way you dice it. Each relationship, whether supporter or griever, has love in their heart.
If there was no love, there would be no grief — what a beautiful thought.
Hearts ache because the love inside it doesn’t go anyway after a loss. It just bounces around and pisses you off because you’ll never be the person you were before your grief. There is no way to relieve it. It’s the most painful thing a human can go through (in my opinion).
The pain one feels after a loss is a result of loving someone or something.
AFTER helps with grief support, yes, but AFTER celebrates the love that creates the need to grieve.
It took me a year to figure it out, but I can confidently say that I don’t deal in grief, I deal in love.