Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

S Shopper Stories


Reminders of the love of those we have lost

by Kelli Tatum

Damita Braye-Gonzalez and Marilyn Harvey

Damita Braye-Gonzalez and Marilyn Harvey

“It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to face,” Damita Gonzalez shares about her mother’s unexpected passing almost three years ago. She is the co-owner of Heaven Sent, a unique greeting card company specializing in loss and grieving. “I needed closure. I needed a way to deal with my grief, “ she explains.

Damita is a licensed family therapist who knows a bit about grief, but had never had to deal with it so close to home. It wasn’t until Mother’s Day when her daughter presented her with such a heartfelt card to help with her pain that Damita came up with the idea to start her own greeting card business. “The card actually felt like it was from my mother in heaven. It brought me so much peace,” she recalls. “It gave me what I needed. It was from that moment I knew it was time to launch this idea,” she emphasizes.

“We have done a lot of cards
for terminally ill patients
who want to make sure their
family members receive a card
on a special day.”

—Damita Gonzalez

Heaven Sent offers specialty cards reminding people of how much they meant to their loved ones who have passed on. A sentiment could read,”I know she cannot be there with you today, but she’ll always be in your heart.” It’s a touching and unique message to keep the memory of a loved one alive. “We have done a lot of cards for terminally ill patients who want to make sure their family members receive a card on a special day,” Damita explains.  “Those messages can come directly from the loved one in their own living words.” Other unique cards include a message from an Alzheimer’s patient, and even pet cards.

There are hundreds of images and messages to choose from. Each card is unique and the online store offers several plans to help with the process. Visit the online store at and select a card. Next, choose a specialized note or write one from the heart with the day you would like it delivered and the address. When the day comes, the card will arrive for the loved one it was sent to. Most cards are under $5 and are designed by graphic artist Dale Collins, who uses a watercolor approach to the artwork of each card.

Damita says it is a wonderful surprise to the recipient. “It makes them feel like that person is still here and part of a special moment.” It doesn’t have to be a one-time occurrence. Heaven Sent offers several packages for folks who want to keep the service for years to come.

The business has started branching out to include more everyday cards, not just ones on grief and loss. Cards can range from a birthday greeting to a wedding or graduation celebration, or something as simple as a “thinking of you” card.

The company started in 2015 and now, two years later, the business has taken off.  Marilyn Harvey, Damita’s cousin, is co-owner of the business. “Marilyn is more like a sister than a cousin to me,” says Damita.“She is a very strong woman and has faced many losses in her lifetime. She helped me get through the loss of my mother. I don’t think I could have done it without her,” she remembers. Marilyn, too, has a background in therapy and holds a special place in her heart for families working through loss and grieving. “I lost my mother, too, several years ago, so in a sense I had already been through the pain Damita was experiencing, and could relate,” Marilyn says.

At top, a sample of greeting cards on display.  At bottom, Marilyn and Damita.

At top, a sample of greeting cards on display. At bottom, Marilyn and Damita.

When Damita and Marilyn started the business, they found themselves realizing it was okay to let their loved ones live on. “Damita and I think alike. Our hearts have always been in the same place through this process. I just knew that when we started this we would be successful,” Marilyn adds. The women have been writing poems together since their teen years and have used that talent to help create the beautiful, heartfelt messages for the cards. Marilyn says she knows the cards are touching hearts by watching the reaction on peoples faces when they read them. “It’s a special moment to witness such emotion and to see love given to someone from a card,” Marilyn comments. “It’s important for us to see that from time to time, to remind us why we do what we do,” she shares.

The cousins are dreaming big and hope to see the company grow nationwide. They have expanded their collection considerably since the business started and continue to listen to the needs of their clients. They hope to become more visible in local hospitals and funeral homes to help get the word out about the business.

“At first, making these cards was a way
for me to cope with a huge loss.
But over time, seeing how many lives
we have touched
to help healing begin for others, 
gives us an even bigger purpose.” 

—Damita Gonzalez

“It’s such a niche service, and it has been so well received. Growth, I believe, is inevitable for us, and that brings me a lot of joy,” Marilyn smiles. Both ladies believe in a life of giving to others and serving their community. “At first, making these cards was a way for me to cope with a huge loss,” says Damita. “But over time, seeing how many lives we have touched to help healing begin for others,  gives us an even bigger purpose,” she adds. Through the business, the women have developed a different approach to loss and grieving. They agree if people can embrace the love and legacy of a person, the love will live and comfort them in the years to come. Always remembered and never forgotten, is how they like to describe it. It’s what they are all about. Heaven Sent can also be found on Facebook, featuring many of cards designs and messages. Damita Gonzalez is a published author and has written about grief and loss in her book, Mourning Light.

Heaven Sent Greeting Cards

P.O. Box 1182
Chesapeake, VA 23327