When a friend or loved one has experienced trauma or is hurting, there’s a natural desire to support and show care for them. But sometimes deciding how to show that support—particularly what to say—isn’t always so simple. Woodbury High School alumna Catherine Hinz realized this truth, especially regarding once “socially taboo” topics, such as divorce or miscarriage, and wanted to help. She launched Beyond Words Co., her business that allows people to send care- and healing-themed care packages to loved ones who are experiencing loss or grief.
In 2016, Hinz, at the time recently married and the new mom to a 6-month-old, discovered her husband’s infidelity. Hinz says she was lucky to have the support of those near her, but quickly realized this wasn’t always the norm. “I attended support groups and saw so many women who didn’t have the support networks I had, and how much they struggled with that,” she says. From the seed of empathy, the idea for her business started to grow.
Photo by Jessica Mealey
Beyond Words Co. offers three care packages that align with common stages of grief. Box No. 1 focuses on helping the recipient get through their day-to-day, with items like sleep masks, tea and aromatherapy kits. Box No. 2 focuses on restoring reality and reducing stress; it includes a journal and bundled sage. Box No. 3 aims to help restore hopefulness and joy, with items like a fun hair band and a wish-themed paper kit. All care packages come with small snacks and basic self-care items, too. “Just as much as there are lovely and comforting items, we wanted these rooted in practicality,” says Hinz. “We want to return some normalcy, because it’s often displaced.”
One of Beyond Words Co.’s customers sent a box to a friend who had gone through an overseas move and a family health crisis. Jennifer, who asked that we not use her last name, says, “When it arrived at my doorstep, I was immediately brought to tears as I opened it. It was everything (and more) that I needed just in that moment.” She adds, “The special touches went above and beyond what a card or flowers can say when someone is going through something difficult.”
In June 2018, Hinz launched a website and officially started taking orders. Her sales tripled in the first seven months. Hinz is also an executive director at a Minnesota-based nonprofit, and recognizes that her whole career has involved supporting others. “My roles have always been managing within a world where everything went wrong…in many ways I still do that,” she says.
One customer is a St. Paul chiropractor. She says she’s sent at least half a dozen boxes to her patients. She speaks about the loving human spirit at the heart of the business: Hinz herself. “She puts so much love and tender thought into finding the perfect items to include in the boxes,” the client says. “It makes me feel like I have someone supporting me while I support those I care about.”
Next up for Beyond Words Co.? Expect to see a new, universally appealing care package for all ages and genders yet this year. “There’s this tremendous power in feeling cared about and remembered,” says Hinz. “Everyone deserves that.”