top of page

Episode 8 - How to Nurture a Grieving Mother's Heart with laurelbox


Join us for a conversation with Johanna Mutz and Denise Wolfe, founders of laurelbox, about how to nurture the heart of a grieving mother. Johanna and Denise share their story of starting a company to offer beautiful gifts for women who have experienced loss.

After Denise's friend lost a baby and Johanna experienced a miscarriage herself, they knew there was a need to nourish broken hearts after loss. Starting laurelbox was their response to that need. Now they offer thoughtfully curated gift boxes to support women who want to support their loved ones through grief. In this episode, we discussed:

  • How to show up for someone who's grieving even if you don't know what to do or have the right words to say

  • Why it's important to give ourselves and our loved ones permission to grieve

  • How to cultivate a tender heart toward moms who have experienced loss

  • Why it takes practice being a good grief supporter

  • Misconceptions about grief and talking about the loss of our babies

  • The love and care that goes into each laurelbox gift

  • Tangible ways to support a bereaved mom during October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month

  • Practical gifts and ideas to honor a baby in Heaven and nourish the heart of a grieving mom

Each episode has a special Hope Guide that you can download by clicking the button below. It is packed with hope-filled resources and extra information from the episode!

Discussion / Application Questions (leave your answers below in the comments!)

  1. Johanna talks about how after her miscarriage, she fell apart because she didn't give herself the time or space to grieve. Can you relate to this statement and how so? What can you do differently to give yourself the gentleness and permission to grieve the loss of your baby?

  2. In this episode, Denise shares how God cultivated her heart to be tender to those who are grieving. And Johanna shares that being a good grief supporter comes with practice. In what ways do you feel that God is calling you to support a grieving friend or family member? What actionable steps can you take to acknowledge their loss and walk with them in their grief?

  3. We talk a lot about showing up for people when they're grieving and sometimes that means just listening to them and sitting with them in their pain. If you are grieving, who can you "let in" to sit with you? If you are not grieving, who can you "show up" for and be a source of comfort and support?

Graphics to share on social media or pin on Pinterest! Find more here.



Johanna Mutz and Denise Wolfe are the founders of laurelbox, a company that offers thoughtfully curated gift boxes designed to nourish the heart after loss.

Johanna and Denise are best friends and cousins who live in Florida and Ohio, respectively. They are passionate about helping women support their loved ones through grief.

Connect with laurelbox:

Facebook /laurelboxgifts

Instagram @laurelbox



New episodes will be shared on the 1st and 15th of every month with bonus episodes released throughout the year. Don't miss a single episode...subscribe wherever you podcast!

Please also leave a review to help spread the message of hope with other grieving mommas!

iTunes | Spotify | Google | Stitcher


Ashley Opliger is the Executive Director of Bridget's Cradles, a nonprofit organization based in Wichita, Kansas that donates cradles to over 1,100 hospitals in all 50 states and comforts over 26,000 bereaved families a year.

Ashley is married to Matt and they have three children: Bridget (in Heaven), and two sons. She is a follower of Christ who desires to share the hope of Heaven with families grieving the loss of a baby.

Connect with Ashley:

Facebook /ashleyopliger

Instagram @ashleyopliger

Pinterest /ashleyopliger

Follow Bridget’s Cradles:

Facebook /bridgetscradles

Instagram @bridgetscradles

Pinterest /bridgetscradles

Follow Cradled in Hope Podcast:

Facebook /cradledinhope

Instagram @cradledinhope


#cradledinhope #cradledinhopepodcast






Episode 8: How to Nurture a Grieving Mother's Heart with Johanna Mutz and Denise Wolfe of Laurelbox

Ashley Opliger [00:00:00]: You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast where we believe that the hope of Heaven, through faith in Jesus Christ, has the power to heal our hearts after the loss of a baby. It’s a pain no mother should have to endure and we want this podcast to be a safe place for your broken heart to land. Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to restore our joy, use our grief for good, and allow us to spend eternity with our babies in Heaven.

I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ clinging to the hope of Heaven. My daughter, Bridget, was stillborn at 24 weeks in my first pregnancy in 2014. In her memory, my husband and I started a nonprofit ministry called Bridget’s Cradles, and God has given us purpose in our pain and we’ve seen beauty come from ashes.

Although we wish you didn’t have a need to be listening to this podcast, we believe God has a reason for you to be here today. We pray this time would be a source of healing for you as we remember that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven. Though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope. Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.

Ashley Opliger [00:1:27]: Hi, sweet mommas. I am so excited to introduce you to my friends, Denise Wolfe and Johanna Mutz, founders of laurelbox, a company that Bridget’s Cradles loves so much and partners with on many different projects.

Denise and Johanna are cousins and best friends from Ohio and Florida. When friends of theirs lost children, siblings, and parents, they recognized a need for beautiful gifts that would speak to loss. Starting laurelbox was their response to answer that need, and now they offer thoughtfully curated gift boxes designed to nourish broken hearts after loss.

I'm grateful to have them on the podcast just two weeks before October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, as I believe this conversation and topic is a timely message as we prepare our hearts for October.

Be sure to listen to the end, as we will be sharing details about a special giveaway for a $50 gift certificate to laurelbox for anyone to shop for someone they love who has lost a baby. Please join me in welcoming Denise and Johanna to Cradled in Hope.

Ashley Opliger [00:2:30]: Welcome Johanna and Denise. We’re so grateful to have laurelbox on the podcast today.

Johanna Mutz [00:02:37]: Thanks for having us!

Denise Wolfe [00:2:37]: Thank you so much!

Ashley Opliger [00:2:37]: We have two people on Zoom today. It's not our norm, but we're grateful that you're both here to represent your company that we love so much. Would you mind sharing about yourselves and the story of starting laurelbox?

Johanna Mutz [00:02:52]: Yeah, I'm Johanna talking right now. And a little bit about me: I live in Tampa, Florida, with my husband and our four boys. We've been married for 13 years and we love sunny Florida.

And the company that we've started that we're here to talk a little bit about today is laurelbox. And we are a company that is really centered around supporting people who are trying to support those in grief. Denise and I started laurelbox back in 2015 and it was really Denise's idea. Denise and I are also cousins.

Ashley Opliger [00:03:23]: Yes, I love that about your story.

Johanna Mutz [00:03:27]: And best friends.

Denise Wolfe [00:03:27]: I'm Denise, and my husband and I live with our two little girls in Cincinnati, Ohio and we've been married for 10 years. And my parents are here local, but the majority of our family actually lives in Florida, which is where I grew up.

I was an only child. And so our families raised Hannah and her brother, David, and I super close, and so we were best friends since I can remember. I said she was my first best friend.

Johanna Mutz [00:03:58]: That’s right.

Denise Wolfe [00:04:02]: And then after starting laurelbox, often we think the same. We just do so much the same now. I joke and I say business meetings are so simple because we literally know what the other one is thinking.

The idea of laurelbox came toward the end of 2014. I had a good friend who lost her baby and I wanted to say something, I wanted to do something, but I had never experienced that deep of a loss before.

And so I found myself almost frozen and not saying anything and not doing anything because I didn't want to say the wrong thing. And I knew that wasn't right either. I knew that wasn't going to show her that I loved her and that I was honoring her son Levi and his life.

And it was actually around that same time, Hannah's friend also had a loss. And so we were reaching out to each other. “What are you sending? Well, what are you doing?”

And so my husband was the one who said, “Why don't you create this company that you're looking for out there?”

And I actually had a couple people who made the comment, “Is there really a need for this?” And I knew that was not Truth, because the Holy Spirit really kept pressing in, saying to do this.

And I felt nervous. I didn't know a name. I didn't know what I was going to make. I literally knew nothing. And so I just had a journal, and between wake and sleep. I believe it was the Lord that’d prompt an idea and I would write it down.

I still have that original journal, which I go back and we laugh at and open as we've definitely taken these a long way. But yeah, it was just from that, shortly after, within a week or two, I reached out to Hannah, just sharing with her and it was, again, my husband's idea.

And he said, “Why don't you ask her to do this with you? And so what laurelbox is today is truly from what Hannah and I have together created. So that was how we got started.

It was in my home for years. My husband and I really loved it in our home. But we've realized last year that we were continuing to grow and so we needed more space. So we're now in a little warehouse. It's about 2,000 square feet and that's where we are now. It's where laurelbox shipping headquarters is.

Ashley Opliger [00:06:16]: I love it. I can relate to so much of your story and we were on the same path. We started in 2015 after Bridget was born in 2014 and I remember following you early on, and seeing all of your laurelboxes out on your porch or by your mailbox being ready to ship out.

And I could relate to that, because at the beginning, Bridget’s Cradles headquarters was in my basement. And it started in Bridget's nursery, and then it filled that room up, and then it went into our entire basement, and we would ship them out on our porch.

And so I would see these pictures on your Instagram and I could relate to that, of starting this from a seed of an idea to it growing in your home. And then when you moved into your headquarters recently, I reached out to you and I was like, “I am so proud of you! That's so amazing. It's such a big step in your company.”

Real quick, before we dive into the emotional side of all of this...being that you are in two different states, I thought we would just share the fun little story because you travel to see each other a lot for laurelbox and because you're best friends and cousins. But I want to just share this little story, actually, I'd like for you to share the story.

Johanna Mutz [00:07:15]: Oh, goodness, yes. We've learned over the years that for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, our sales are very high. And so I fly from Florida to Denise in Ohio every year. So was it last year? No, it was two years ago. Right?

Ashley Opliger [00:07:33]: It must've been 2019 before COVID.

Johanna Mutz [00:07:36]: It was before COVID. So I had flown to Ohio. Denise, you were swamped with orders. And so-

Denise Wolfe [00:07:45]: I made you, I got Uber to meet-

Johanna Mutz [00:07:36]: It was fine. I’m totally good. It was great.

Denise Wolfe [00:07:45]: I’m like, “Can you call an Uber? I can’t.”

Johanna Mutz [00:07:36]: So I got in an Uber, and the driver was so kind and we were hitting it off and chit-chatting. And so he asked me why I was in Cincinnati and I shared, “I'm here for work.” And he asked me what I did, and so I shared about my business and the heart behind the business, and that we support people who are going through grief.

And he was like, “I have this story. My niece owns, has started this non-profit called Bridget’s Cradles.”

And I was like, “What? Are you for real?” And so I ended up taking an Uber from the airport to Denise's house with your uncle.

Ashley Opliger [00:08:28]: I know. And you had reached out to me and you were like, “You will never believe this. Your uncle was my Uber-”

Johanna Mutz [00:08:32]: It was so cool. It was so great. It was the best Uber ride ever.

Denise Wolfe [00:08:37]: It was divine. It was really, really cool.

Johanna Mutz [00:08:37]: It was very cool.

Ashley Opliger [00:08:39]: Such a small world. So crazy. I just had to share that story because I really could not believe that out of all the Uber drivers in the world, you had my uncle. And then the fact that you also were able to make that connection and talk about it, but he's very outgoing and friendly, so of course he would talk to you.

Johanna Mutz [00:08:55]: Yeah. It was a great drive. It's a long drive to Denise's house, too It was 50 minutes at the time. You're in a different house, I think.

Ashley Opliger [00:09:01]: Yeah. Well, it is so amazing.

We are so impressed with everything that you do and how thoughtful everything that you do is, from how you package the gifts to the gifts themselves. And so many of the items that you have are handmade. You pour the candles, you literally hand stamp the jewelry. So much love and care goes into the gifts.

And we will talk more about the gifts themselves soon. But switching gears now, I really want to talk, Johanna, about your story of miscarriage and how that prompted you when Denise had this experience with her friend, bringing that to your heart as well, being a mom that's experienced this.

Johanna Mutz [00:09:43]: Yeah. When I got pregnant for the first time, my husband and I were super excited. We lived in downtown Washington, DC at the time. And the idea of having a baby was really