‘Grieving pins’ can inform others you’re recovering from loss

Heather Taylor fills mail orders for her grieving pins. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Grieving isn’t always easy in a culture that expects us to move on quickly after someone dies.

Many workplaces allow only three bereavement days following a death in the family, notes Heather Taylor, a local nurse and bereavement specialist.

“We are a death-denying society that doesn’t like to talk about it. We tend to think grieving has a time limit on it, but research shows there is no real end to grief.”

For the past five years, Taylor has operated a business called After A Loss, which provides funeral concierge service to help bereaved families.

She’s also involved in multiple programs to help with grieving, including a free service through Southwest Counselling in Point Edward that facilitates a weekly walk for anyone feeling loss.

The walk, which began as a six-week experiment, has proven so successful it’s still ongoing after three years.

“People want to feel supported when they go through any kind of a loss, whether it’s a family death, a divorce, a pet loss, a financial loss or a relationship loss,” said Taylor.  “Ending the isolation makes a difference.”

That’s why she was struck by a concept she heard about at a conference in London featuring U.S. grief counsellor Alan Wolfelt.

“He mentioned he had pins that say “Under Reconstruction,” Taylor explained. While travelling home with friends, Lila Wilkins and Kendra Langis, the women talked about the value of wearing a pin to let others know you’re grieving.

“There was a time when people would wear black bands or black clothing to show that they were in mourning,” said Taylor.  “It was a symbolic reminder that they had a loss and might need a little extra patience or compassion.”

While that tradition is long gone, the women wondered if a ‘grieving pin’ might work the same way.

Langis offered to pay for the first 100 pins. The women designed them in the shape of a black ribbon with the word “Grieving” across it. The first 100 were gone, selling for $6 each, within 24 hours.

Over the past three weeks Taylor has filled requests or mail orders for more than 600 grieving pins and mailed them to people across North America.

She admits she’s a little surprised by the demand and the number sent to people far away as Arizona.

Local funeral homes and florists are ordering the pins in bulk.

“People seem to really get it,” she said. “They want to put them in their sympathy cards or they want to wear them so they can be recognized in their grief.

“The losses we experience take time to absorb and there are some days when our grief feels overwhelming.

“That’s when you need something to let people know you are grieving, to say be gentle with me. I am not at my best,” said Taylor.

For more information, visit www.afteraloss.com or check out Taylor’s Facebook page.

Got a great idea for a business story? Send it to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca.