A Death in the Family.
The universe is not subtle with its messages. Sometimes it stops you dead in your tracks. Like you’ve hit some invisible wall and you are flattened. Winded. Shocked. Friday was a day like that. A hard day after a hard week.
In the short span of five days, we lost Kate Spade and then Anthony Bourdain. I’ve never met either one of them but knew enough about both for this to catch me off guard.
I’ve seen Kate Spade stores in Ontario and the States as well. I know many people, Allison included, who loved the brand because they felt connected to Kate. For Anthony Bourdain, I’ve watched Parts Unknown and like so many in the province, swelled with pride as he grabbed a feed at Raymond’s discovering what we’ve all known so long as a great culinary secret. Both of these celebrities were not your average celebrities. They felt like people we knew. Like close friends. Like family.
These are two individuals seemed to have the world in the palm of their hands, endless wealth, fame and fortunes at their fingertips. Yet unbeknownst to us all, pain and tragedy lurked in their shadows. It’s a striking example of how we do not know the burdens others carry. The load may be too heavy and the light may be too hard to see.
Mental Health and addictions touch us all. There are no degrees of separation. We all have our own shadows of doubt. We’ve all suffered some level of depression and anxiety. But for some, those shadows and darkness are inescapable no matter how hard they try.
If there’s any light to be found here, any kind of upside, it is this: we need to use this opportunity to encourage discussion. We need to talk about suicide, openly and honestly.
I truly believe that we are all in this adventure together. We are all connected in some way. In our families, friends, and communities, we are part of something that is larger than we may know. I like to think we share a goal or vision to leave this place better than we found it. To do that, we must take better care of each other.
We don’t live in the shadows by ourselves. Our shadows overlap and connect each and every day. It reminds me of that well-quoted line from It’s a Wonderful Life, that each life touches so many other lives. We need to recognize that and encourage each other to ask for help.
Help. It is a simple word. Likely one of the first words we learned yet it can be so difficult to speak. There is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do. But break it down to an easier form. Don’t think of it as mental health. Think of it as just health. Something’s wrong and you want to know how to treat it to feel better. I know that sounds almost too simple but the point is to not keep it bottled up. Talk. Please talk.
Help can take many forms. Maybe it’s the shoulder of a friend, a hand of a relative, or the tender support of a professional. There are always options.
I hope Kate and Anthony have now found some of the peace that eluded them in life. Life can be tough and challenging, but I can’t stress enough that you are not alone. Please, if you are in a shadow, see the hands reaching to help you. Don’t be afraid. Together, we can make it through.
The Canadian suicide prevention hotline number is 1 833 456 4566.