I’ll be doing a longer post tomorrow about why we need to keep talking about suicide and mental health because, of course, there’s a lot to unpack and process there, but last week?? My heart immediately went out to Kate Spade’s daughter, Frances. She didn’t lose Kate Spade the Fashion Icon. She lost Kate Spade the Mom. At 13. And, as I’ve shared over the years, the death of a parent from suicide leaves you reeling — for so many years.
So maybe it’s no surprise that I knew I had to write something to Frances. Because, well, I’ve been there. I wrote an open letter to her about what I wish someone had told me right after my father died. The essay is my first for Harper’s Bazaar. This was an emotional one to put into words, but I hope it brings some comfort to those left behind.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, which I sincerely hope Frances is able to read someday when she’s ready…
I’d tell her that she shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it. Even in 2018, people still don’t know what to say or how to offer support to those left behind, mostly because the topic of suicide makes them uncomfortable and there’s still such a stigma attached to it, but people want to help. There’s power in telling your story, and although I’ve probably told the same stories more than once, I know the simple act of giving words to what I went through has helped to heal my heart.
Little by little, the light will start to peek through the storm clouds. Her grief might still be there, but right next to it will be tiny slivers of hope. I hope she’ll embrace those moments of hope and know that grief and hope can co-exist together harmoniously, like the two sides of a coin.
The bond between a parent and child is like a deeply rooted tree. Storms may cause the tree to sway back and forth, but its roots remain firmly planted. That bond will never break. And neither will my connection to my father. Like that tree, it will always be there, the light forever glowing against its leaves.
I’ve been reading all the comments on my essay over the last week and wanted to thank you all so much for reading and sharing! It means a lot that we’re having these conversations and working to #EndTheStigma together.
You can read the full piece 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! And please, know that you’re NEVER alone. You can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).