Please forgive me, friends!! I’ve been remiss in sharing my new bylines on the blog, but as we get closer to the slow-down of summer, I’m planning on sharing ALL THE BYLINES. Translation: Get ready for a heavy dose of relationships, disability and pop culture — you know, my classic wheelhouse! First up: My November piece on Glamour about losing a parent and grief.
Survivors of Suicide Loss Day was in mid-November and my piece was timed perfectly. As I remember my father, I’m glad I was able to write about grief for one of my favorite publications. I wanted to look at what it’s like to lose a parent to suicide in your early 20s, which is something that isn’t talked about very much. There aren’t books about it like there are for widows or children, and there’s really no label for losing a parent at that age. I felt like I was in limbo — no longer a child, but at the same time, not a full-fledged adult.
So I tried to give voice to that — to be the resource and reassurance for someone today that I didn’t have back then. This one was one of the toughest to write (I started writing it in March 2018), and I hope it helps someone.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt of the piece, which, even after 16 years, was still incredibly therapeutic to write. It helped me continue to heal, process and, of course, honor the relationship I had with my father…
No grief book could tell me what it would feel like to see reminders of my father: birthdays, holidays, little girls holding their dad’s hand. Even worse, there was no way to prepare myself for what it would feel like to graduate from college and not pick out my dad’s smiling face from the crowd as I accepted my diploma. When a loved one commits suicide, they’re both everywhere and nowhere.
The most distressing and concerning thing about being left in the aftermath of a loved one’s suicide, I came to realize, is that it decimates your sense of identity. I was no stranger to feeling different—growing up with a physical disability, I was used to feeling different from my peers—but my father’s death brought with it an entirely new sense of isolation. I suddenly felt like a stranger in my own life, isolated from the person I used to be.
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! And here’s to us going home for the holidays, wherever that may be! Love you all… xoxo