The call toBe you, Bravelyis concurrently empowering and intimidating. We get that. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start or identify exactly what is calling our hearts toward doing something brave. If you’re not sure what brave thing to do this year maybe it’s about slowing down to listen to your heart, or maybe it’s about trying out a few things, because sometimes it takes getting involved before we know we’re passionate. For those of you in the second category, we’ll be highlighting organizations doing impactful things in the world with opportunities to dip your toe in, getting involved right from your home. (For those of you in the first category, we hope you’ll follow us along inThe Brave Collectiveand that the journeys of other women will inspire and orient you in your own calling.)
is the organization we are highlighting this month at Hello, Darling. It is an organization born out of a painful season of loss. strives to help couple’s grieving the loss of a baby in utero, either through miscarriage or stillbirth, by providing them a piece of jewelry as a remembrance.
Here’s to brave!
Tell us about you and your role at ?
I am Larisa Barth. I am 29, and wife to a courageous husband who is a pastor. I am a mom, advocate, a creative mind and a wild heart that keeps me living intentionally. As I share with you, I am 12 weeks pregnant with my 2nd “Rainbow Baby,” a child born after a loss, and watching my 2 year old, Kamari Morning, dance to Frozen. This is my 5th pregnancy, and in October we hope to have our second child here in our arms.
I am the founder and board president of HYWL, and I also manage our volunteer team and process and ship our gifts.
How does work?
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization existing to acknowledge life by creating personalized hand stamped jewelry for moms and dads who have lost a baby in the womb. Since we are completely volunteer run by moms (and my husband), we only accept new requests once a month. We open on the first of each month at 8AM MST, and parents can customize their necklace or keychain. It is a free gift to them; however, we have had to start charging a small $3 fee to cover the shipping costs. I wish that we had enough donations to never have to worry about funds, but we actually operate with less than $1,000 in our budget at any given time. I am always amazed though at how just $40 will come right when we need to create the final five on our waiting list. It is our goal to have every request completed and shipped within a month.
We have a small team of hand stamp jewelers, and they each take a list of baby names. I send them the metal hearts and rectangles to be stamped and they ship them back to me when completed. I finish from my home and add charms, chains and links. Then I package each one in a gift box with a note card. Every single gift so far has been shipped from our house. Each note card has another baby’s name on it since every piece is given in honor of a child who has passed away.
HYWL also sponsors a remembrance gathering each year in October in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
What was the inspiration behind ?
Our first born son, Asher Finn Barth, came silently into this world on his due date, October 9th, 2011.After a picture perfect 40 week pregnancy, and an active little monkey in my womb, you never expect to hear those words, “I’m so sorry but your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.” I gave birth to death, and held my warm and beautiful 5lb 5oz baby boy and begged God to give him breath. I thought my life had ended that day and I would never smile again.
The journey to joy is a long and difficult one, and sometimes time seems to stand still even though the world is flying by. It was almost a year after my greatest heartbreak that my husband and I founded to support families whose babies never took a breath on this earth. We want to acknowledge the lives of the children who die before they are born and are only ever “held their whole lives” in their mother’s wombs.
Seeing our Asher Finn’s name brings so much comfort, and we wanted to offer that to other grieving families. We left the hospital with empty arms, and the funeral director walked out with our son instead. And I was left with after-birth pains and engorged breasts that were meant to nourish my son. I shouldn’t have felt so alone and isolated, there are other families living this nightmare but a lot of us do so behind closed doors. Part of healing for us has been proudly talking about our son and recognizing the lives of babies born in silence.
Where is currently working?
HYWL started in Montana and quickly grew to serve families in all 50 states as well as around the world. Last year we made the decision to not ship internationally due to unresolved issues with packages getting lost and the cost of postage. There is a huge demand for us to resume our international reach, and we hope that will be possible again in the near future.
Can you share some interesting/unique/fun facts about ?
- Our world-wide headquarters/workshop is in my living room at our home in Wyoming.
- Every single letter and number impression that makes up a baby’s name and birthdate is made by hitting a metal stamp with a hammer.
- Our logo is designed from an actual picture of my pregnant silhouette with Asher at 36 weeks.
- To date we have created and shipped close to 7,000 free gifts to grieving moms and dads all over the world.
What can a mom do to help ?
Pregnancy loss effects one in four mothers. That is a lot of moms who do not get to bring home a new baby. If it hasn’t impacted you personally, we all probably know a friend or family member who has had to say goodbye before hello after their baby was miscarried or stillborn. We offer a sponsorship program, and for just $8 you can cover the cost to make one gift. $40 will help us send 5. It has been a great way for family to donate in memory of a baby since they can’t buy birthday or Christmas gifts for them.
We also offer full color brochures for hospitals and birthing centers, if you would like to request them on our website. A lot of our families find us through social media, support groups and word of mouth, so please share our mission when you can.
We do get a lot of emails from moms who want to give back by joining our team of jewelers. If that is your desire, it is a job that requires some fundraising, (and of course some artistic ability). The cost of the custom metal font and supplies to hand stamp for HYWL is around $650. Right now we have only five moms who create our gifts and that allows us to accept around 150 new requests each month.
What is inspiring you today to Be you, Bravely?
When you bury your child, you lose your future. Some days, just choosing to get up and find joy and be present in that day is my act of bravery. It’s been a long journey to come to the place of embracing my fears and taking risks again when I know there are no certainties in life. I want to be authentic, and I am inspired by the bravest of souls I know, my husband. His care and support of my wild dreams is truly unconditional. And all while his own daddy heart yearns for his son. He embraces life with grace and holds me when the work I do in the bereaved community becomes too much for my wounded soul.
I firmly believe in different love languages and I receive and give love through gifts. Asher’s life was such an amazing gift to me and I am honored to parent him by giving beautiful tokens of remembrance to other grieving families. I am not afraid to say my son’s name, and I hope to empower others to break the silence.