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The Chippi Chippi Box

I was once on a bus headed to Cobán in Guetamala. It started to rain while the sun was shining, and the bus driver told me that Chippi Chippi means “sunshine rain.” It is a light and misty rain that comes off the mountains. I’ve thought about this often, and interpret it to mean how two things can exist at the same time: the rain falling while the sun is shining, both dismal and bright at the same time, and always beautiful, like your forever baby.


Photo from Carmen Grover.

My name is Carmen Grover, from Watford, Ontario. I am a mommy to eleven babies: seven not with me physically (but always with me), three beautiful earthside babies, and one on the way. In 2017, I lost my daughter Kaia, and then in 2020, I lost my son Jude.


After their deaths, we received two memory boxes from the hospital in London, Ontario, with small keepsake items to commemorate them. I felt upset but also grateful to receive the boxes.


Obviously, I would rather have gone home with a baby than a box, but mostly it meant I didn't have to go home empty-handed. There was such care in the preparation of these wooden oak, hand-crafted boxes that were there to capture and hold the only memories we would ever have with our babies. This always stuck with me. The boxes mattered to me. These little things do make such a big difference.


This year, I had the dream to provide comfort boxes to any family going through pregnancy loss in Lambton County. A little sunshine in a box, to shine through the rain. As a loss mama, I know how hard it is to find positivity in grief. You are grateful, of course, and do find the beauty in things while constantly comparing with those who have it worse, but this is your worst.


I think we need something to bring us out of the heart-wrenching pain. Glimmers of things that remind us of joy, or we would never continue. I like to imagine these little pockets of happiness or enjoyment come from our babies; it’s them reminding us what we are, what we gave to them, how we supported them, how they didn't suffer, and how they don't want us to either.


I know the name Chippi Chippi may sound too cheery for some, but I wanted to call this box something a little different. Hope in the darkness. How we chip away at out grief one day at a time, by honouring, remembering and spending time with the memories of our babies. And in the process, we take care of ourselves.


I have always loved creating. It is what I often turn to, to spin something purposeful from pain. My advocacy for pregnancy and infant loss support comes from a genuine labour of love. In October of 2020, to keep my head out of the darkness, and in honour of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I ran a Rainbow Hat Campaign, where I sold hats that I had knit with the hope of spreading awareness and shedding light on the important and isolating topic of pregnancy and infant loss. Seeing the supportive community that grew from this, and seeing how people shared their stories, wore their hats, and bought hats for people who had lost, was truly amazing. Together we raised $2,588 for the Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network, which helps to support individuals and families experiencing pregnancy loss.


The following October, in keeping with tradition, I ran a Sheety Baby Wrap campaign. I used sheets and turned them into beautiful baby wraps, with all proceeds going to the Bereaved Families of Ontario - Southwest Region. We raised $1,500, and I could feel the support from the community, and my own comfort and pride, that was wrapped up in this cause.


I have since run an Angels for Loveys campaign, with $900 going to the Memory Box Program. I'm always blown away by the generosity of people who come together for an isolating cause in need. This money went towards the idea of my Chippi Chippi boxes, working together with talented local businesses to provide these comfort boxes to families going through pregnancy or infant loss. It feels like a small way I can give back, and each box is donated in memory of the baby lost. I’ve been creating these boxes tenderly and made with every love. My husband paints each box and my children pick the hearts and cards randomly that they think should go in each box. Seeing my vision come together, by putting small items in each box that can bring peace and small pleasures, gives me such inspiration to be able to provide to those in our small town.      


Photo from Carmen Grover.

I am still at the beginning of this project, but for now I am just so excited to be able to offer this to our community. Personalized notes, personalized names, and your suggestions are all welcome. With hand-picked items selected for each box from local artisans and businesses, items can include things like: incense, bath products, candles, knit scarves or hats, bracelets, tea, journals, books, grief and loss affirmation cards, intention bottles, yoga pose suggestions, lotions, butterfly food, breathing recommendations, seeds for planting, and notebooks from the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network.


So far, I have been able to make five boxes with the funds we graciously received. If you have a small business and have something we can include in these boxes by donation, we would be extremely grateful. Or if you have a hidden talent, like sewing, knitting, crocheting, or drawing, your skills would be welcome. Donations are always welcome and all donators may write their own personalized note to share with the family, if they like.


Families leaving the hospital may be asked if they would like to receive a Chippi Chippi Box, which can include the gender of their baby and the name for personalization. Referrals can also be made by family members or friends so a box can be sent to a family in need. My hope is that there is no cost to families, as I continue to fundraise and raise money through campaigns, or perhaps it is something loved ones can purchase for them, making it free for families. I will continue to do what I can to support our community and individuals going through their own healing journey.


Of course, the Chippi Chippi boxes won’t take away the heartbreak of baby loss, but hopefully they may make someone feel less alone and more loved during such a hard, dark time, one that feels so isolating. In such a small community, we don’t have the same supports as those in the city, like London, where I work. My wish is to send some warm hugs and support to the families of Lambton County in this small way, so they know they are not alone.            


Photo from Carmen Grover.

The butterflies, rainbows, birds, and flowers can all be signs and they are extremely powerful to many loss families. They bring some light, hope, and glimmers in the darkness . . . a small comfort. These boxes have been created to remind families of those glimmers, not to remind them of what they have lost, as they never forget that. A small way to come back to themselves. I know there is nothing that will help bring their baby back, but each parent or sibling or family member is worthy of peace, self-love, and support in honour of the baby they lost.


They were here, and they mattered, and they continue to matter.

 

Please send me a message to let me know if there is any family you think would benefit from a Chippi Chippi Box. There will be no cost to anyone who is experiencing pregnancy or infant loss in the Lambton County, Ontario area.



Graciously accepting donations if the spirit moves.

 

In Loving Memory of:

Kaia and Jude Grover

Bridget Olive

Joy

 

Forever special, always held, here eternally.


--

Carmen Grover is a graduate of HHA's Infant and Pregnacy Loss Doula Certificate Program. More importantly, she is a mother, nurse, yogi, farmer, and journal-keeper turned writer. Check out Carmen's book A Diary to My Babies.

 

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