Exciting news, friends: I had a new essay published on Marie Claire last week! I’m pretty proud of this one because it explores just how much I wanted my grief to “fit in” somewhere after my father’s death. I needed to feel like I belonged somewhere — anywhere — and that there was a safe place where my emotions could be understood.
Here’s an excerpt from the essay, which also got picked up by Good Housekeeping over the weekend…
A few years into my grief, my mom and I attended a National Survivors of Suicide Day conference in Chicago, a day where survivors come together to share their stories and give support to one another. While I listened to everyone’s stories, I couldn’t help but feel out of place. It was as if I was looking into a world full of these experiences that had nothing to do with my life — I just couldn’t identify with anyone, even people who had lost a parent.
When it was my turn to speak, I shared my story, but I felt like it wasn’t really “my story.” They were my words, sure, but this was the story of someone else’s life, not mine. It was as if I was sitting outside the scene and looking in; everything was so remote, so foreign, so unfamiliar.
In fact, I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. My father had cancer, yes, but that’s not technically what he died from — so was I really a member of the cancer survivors community too? And although he committed suicide, he’d never had a history of mental illness, so how could I be the traditional survivor of suicide? In grief, feeling like you fit in somewhere — anywhere — is a very powerful and necessary thing, so to feel like I was alone was even more isolating.
I’d wanted to connect so badly to something, anything, that would make me feel like I was understood. My father was gone and my grief was real — and more than that, it mattered. My family understood, sure, but for some reason, I wanted everyone else to understand as well. I started feeling like I was trying desperately to still connect with my father, to bridge my former life with the one I’m living now.
You can read the full essay here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo
P.S. Catch up on past essays: I’m Physically Disabled, But I Want Love, The One Thing That Helped Me Heal From My Dad’s Suicide and My Father Committed Suicide, But He’s Still My Superhero.