Hannah’s Hope delivers compassion after pregnancy loss
Kathryn Johnson created a ministry called Hannah’s Hope for families who have experienced a miscarriage.
Kathryn Johnson and her husband, Mark, always dreamed of having a baby. In April 2013, Johnson was elated to find out she was pregnant.
Unfortunately, she would soon learn her baby had no heartbeat. Seven months later, her second pregnancy also would end in miscarriage. A third miscarriage occurred in February 2014.
In her grief, Johnson scoured the internet for resources and support, only to be disappointed.
“I was Googling ministries for miscarriage, and there just really wasn’t much out there,” Johnson says, “which is surprising in the 21st century with so many resources out there for so many things.”
Instead of finding those outside sources of strength and comfort, she looked within herself. “I realized there was a need for resources for women like me,” Johnson says. “It was therapeutic for me to use my hurt to help others.”
Johnson created a ministry called Hannah’s Hope, offering Hope Boxes for families who have experienced a pregnancy loss. The name was inspired by a biblical reference to Hannah’s longing and prayers for a child in 1 Samuel.
Initially, Johnson and a friend partnered with their church and offered their Hope Boxes as a ministry to parishioners. However, they quickly found there was such a need, it would be beneficial to become their own entity and sought nonprofit status.
“After our first loss in 2013, several people sent us gifts, and it really meant a lot to me,” Johnson says. “So when I was working on putting together Hannah’s Hope, that was the inspiration for what we put in the boxes.”
Hope Boxes, which can be ordered from the website hannahshope.us and shipped anywhere, cost $25, plus shipping. Artfully packaged and thoughtfully curated, the boxes offer a unique and helpful way to address the painful subject of miscarriage. Items include:
- Devotional book “Grieving the Child I Never Knew” by Kathe Wunnenberg
- Placement of New Testament in memory of baby by the Gideons
- Small plush lamb so each mom has something to hold
- Christmas ornament with baby’s name — a keepsake to use each year to remember baby
- Scripture card to provide hope and encouragement
- List of songs suggested to provide hope and comfort that are available for purchase on iTunes
- Etsy coupons: Discount for “hope” necklaces to purchase and wear in memory of your baby
- Seed packet: Forget-me-nots to plant in memory of baby
“Most people who buy our boxes are buying them as gifts for other people,” Johnson says. These customers want to do something to help, whether or not they feel comfortable knowing what to say.
“We have customers that come back over and over,” she says. “Some found out about us because they received a box, and now they are sending one to someone else.”
Mary Catherine Corbell is a return customer, who initially became aware of Hannah’s Hope when she received a box after suffering a pregnancy loss.
“We experienced a miscarriage, and friends of ours sent us a box,” Corbell says. “It was a complete surprise. Something like a miscarriage can be super isolating and lonely if you’ve never been through it, and so I think getting a package helps you remember you’re loved.”
So touched by the gift, Corbell was able to comfort other families experiencing the same grief.
“The year after our loss, we knew a couple who went through a miscarriage, and two weeks later we knew another couple who had to deliver their stillborn baby,” Corbell says. “It was nice to know an action I could take to help.”
Johnson says it’s interesting to see how different items in the Hopes Boxes resonate with different people. For Corbell, it was the book and list of songs that she used the most.
Others love the Christmas ornament, Johnson says. “That way every year families have a way to remember and honor that life,” she says. “It has their baby’s name and the first year they spent in heaven. Holidays can be extra hard for people who have lost someone.”
Johnson employs a small team of two individuals. One assembles boxes from Johnson’s home in Tulsa and the other provides administrative responsibilities. Johnson painstakingly oversees every detail.
“I’m very particular about the boxes because this may be the only thing a mom has to represent her baby, so I want it to be pretty darn perfect,” Johnson says.
According to statistics from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Pregnancy Association, somewhere between 10 and 25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yet, the subject has historically been taboo.
Johnson hopes to help change that.
“It definitely is still somewhat hush-hush, but it’s not nearly what it used to be,” she says.
“A lot of times people don’t want to talk about a pregnancy loss because they’re afraid that it will remind the mom of the loss. The reality for her is that it’s very front brain — she’s thinking about it. So for you to bring it up is going to make her feel loved and remembered.”
In 2016, the Johnsons’ gave birth to their daughter, Norah. Their son, Pax, was born in 2018. They also have a daughter, Karlie, who they adopted in 2012. However, Johnson remains passionate about the mission of Hannah’s Hope.
“It’s obviously sad when boxes are being purchased because that means there was a loss,” Johnson says. “However, the loss is going to happen whether or not someone receives a box ... It just means that more people are being ministered to through their grief.”
Johnson says Hannah’s Hope gladly accepts donations through its website, hannahshope.us, or via mail to P.O. Box 35974, Tulsa, OK 74153.