Second Act: MaryBeth D’Agostino

“Moving forward is a choice,” says MaryBeth D’Agostino. “It’s not reflexive.” How MaryBeth made that choice and moved forward after the unthinkable happened—she lost her son, Peter, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, to suicide five years ago—is the reason we chose her Second Act story.

“My mom is supermom,” began the submission from MaryBeth’s daughter, Alexandra—and as we read on, we quickly understood why. It took superhuman strength for MaryBeth to support her three other children as they grieved Peter’s loss, even as she sorted through her own grief. “Peter was not known to us to be sick,” she says. “He was a bright, athletic, successful guy, a great guy—and I learned later that is often the profile of someone lost to suicide. It was a tremendous shock to all of us, and I was additionally shocked by how much my other children needed me to keep them upright through that time.”

While on leave from full-time work in retail product development—MaryBeth previously worked for well-known brands including J. McLaughlin and Vineyard Vines—a chance car ride past a vacant shop in Greenwich provided an instant moment of clarity and a roadmap for moving forward. “I had thought about opening a store before, so when I saw the sign I just thought, ‘This is what I’m doing.’” And Navy Lobster was born. The name is inspired by MaryBeth’s maiden name, Navin, and the name Peter had chosen for a dog the family had been planning to get. The shop, which carries a carefully curated selection of gifts and home accessories, gave MaryBeth a sense of independence and self-assuredness as she watched it come to life and flourish. “My sisters and I were so proud to watch her pick up the pieces and start something new,” says Alexandra. “I’ve watched my mom build a strong business, source amazing products and build relationships with members of our town community.”

Alexandra’s reflections on her mother’s hope after loss demonstrate just how strong an anchor MaryBeth has been for her family. “Teaching them to go forward is my thing,” she says. “It’s not easy every day, but I think of the pain Peter must have been in, and if my pain is a fraction of that I know I can keep going for him and my daughters.”

In honor of MaryBeth, her son and family—and in recognition of this Mental Health Awareness Month—a percentage of today’s sales will be contributed to the Child Mind Institute of NYC, dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health conditions.