Way back in January, I was cleaning up my email inbox, deleting spam and junk left and right. As I sifted through the digital pile, one email caught my eye: a message from Etsy, a favorite online retailer of mine, offering the opportunity to opt out of receiving any Valentine’s Day emails. Amidst all the other unopened emails, I actually clicked on that one and read its message.
The email informed me that because some people find this holiday difficult, we could opt out of receiving marketing emails from Etsy specifically pertaining to that content while still receiving their other emails. I’ll admit that at first, I thought it was a little silly. Couldn’t people just ignore the emails (much like myself) and delete them? Then I imagined a hypothetical someone going through a terrible break-up, or someone desperately longing for a relationship and feeling hurt by reminders of their single status, and felt a sense of appreciation for Etsy’s optional marketing. And then I deleted the email.
But it wasn’t until a couple months later when I received a similar email from Etsy offering the same opt out choice for Mother’s Day emails that I became aware of the true power of this option. Although my own mom is alive and well, I felt an overwhelming rush of empathy as I thought of my dear friend who had lost her mother too soon. She had expressed before how difficult Mother’s Day can be, from constant reminders everywhere we look to the overwhelm of social media posts. I thought of another friend who had suffered a miscarriage and who worried motherhood would not be in the cards for her, who would have empty arms on Mother’s Day. I thought of yet another friend facing a difficult obstacle with her mother, who will likely still not be on speaking terms with her this holiday.
These weren’t hypothetical people – these are people I know and love. It was painfully clear how useful this opt out option might be for someone for whom this celebration can bring such deep hurt.
We can’t always opt out of conversations in real life, but I was grateful to Etsy for giving people the chance to remove even just this one extra reminder. It struck me as compassionate; a simple act of consideration they didn’t have to offer, but they did. I had personally never seen this specific kind of option from other brands before, but if others offer it too, kudos to them as well.
It can be easy to get swept up in our own joy and celebrations, but this was another reminder for me that not everyone is celebrating the same way I am. Some are experiencing the duality of great happiness and deep sadness at the same time. Some are not celebrating at all. I hope to always treat others with the knowledge that they may be carrying well-hidden burdens that we know nothing about.
If you’re celebrating, mourning, or somewhere in between, I want to hold space for the validity of ALL your feelings in a world that loves to make things black and white. I’m grateful the Etsy brand showed compassionate consideration for others. I hope those that could benefit from a tool like this will use it as needed with no judgment and that it brings a true sense of peace.