The four of us met after the shared experience of losing our partners at a young age. As each of us lost our partners, we found ourselves needing community, and community with people who were experiencing the same things as us. Young widowhood is not common, and although all of us have very supportive families and friends who were doing their best to support us, we needed to find people who knew exactly what we were feeling and thinking. Through the power of the internet and our networks, we were all connected over time, and by the Fall of 2017, our 'widow gang' was complete. The idea for Crying Out Loud came later. Our friendship rooted in our grief journeys came first. As our friendship, and our widowed lives progressed, we started talking about life changes we wanted to make (the cliche about how death changes you is so true!) and what type of impact we wanted to have on the world. Our own personal journeys to find mental wellness in the face of the traumas we were enduring served as the seeds of Crying Out Loud. We realized how hard it was to support someone going through a terrible time, and we realized our lived experience and our openness to go into the hard places and the dark spaces was an invaluable offering. We saw a gap in the market and felt we were uniquely positioned to fill this gap. The wellness industry is a packed space, but most of it focuses on physical wellness, not mental wellness. We realized we could create a space that could support people on their journey of self care, and on their journey of community care. How transformative could it be to have a place where it was normalized to go a buy a gift for someone who is was struggling with anxiety or who was grieving a recent miscarriage? Reflecting on our own bereavement gifts we had received, we realized how important they were. Those little cards and gifts didn't take away our pain, but rather provided us with a small dose of joy or love and each of those tiny doses gave us the strength to take another step forward. Once the idea of a boutique focused on mental wellness became clear in our minds, we were off. Within days, we had a name, a concept and unbridled enthusiasm for what we could build with Crying Out Loud.
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Crying Out Loud
Crying Out Loud is co-founded by Shannon Culver, Sarah Keast, Alexie Landry and Janice Tsao. We had the pleasure to interview them and learn about the brand.
Crying Out Loud is a retail company that promotes mental wellbeing through a thoughtful selection of self and community care items, and curated care packages for all of life’s ups and downs. We have a bricks and mortar location in the east end of Toronto (2005 Danforth Ave, open Tuesday - Friday 12-6pm, Sat/Sun 10-4pm, closed Mondays) as well as an online shop which ships across North America, cryingoutloud.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or on Instagram (@cryingoutloudto).
I have learned soo much! And continue to do so. But 2 of the most impactful things I've come to know and understand over the years are these. First, grief is not linear and it is not time bound. It comes in waves and sometimes the waves are massive and pull you under. Sometimes the waves are merely ripples and they pass by gently. But I now know when a wave comes, that eventually it will recede. I don't fight it. I let it be messy (as my grief counsellor has taught me) and then it passes. I've also learned the size of my grief will not lessen as the years go by. My life gets bigger around my grief, but the grief stays the same. Something that the Crying Out Loud team really has learned in our years since our partners have died is that you can be multiple feelings at the same time. We can be sad that our partners died, but at the same time happy that we have found new loves. We can be angry that death has touched us in such an ugly way, but also at peace with the paths we are on. Emotions do not exist in an either/or scenario, but in fact in all shades of grey. Feeling multiple things at the same time is normal and healthy and okay.
Talk about your person! I'm constantly sharing anecdotes with my kids about their dad or mentioning stuff like 'oh daddy would have loved this dinner, he loved pizza. He would have grabbed for that last piece for sure!' And if you have someone in your life who is grieving, ask questions about their person! We love to talk about them, and we love to know that other people haven't forgotten about them either. Display momentos or photos in your home if that feels good to you. Talk to your person (whether it be in a journal, mumbling to yourself, sending them emails etc) and develop a way to have a relationship with them, despite their physical presence being gone.