May Their Memories Be For A Blessing

I did not know Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain but I respected them and happily welcomed them into my home. I still have the Kate Spade bag I received as a gift years ago – always wanting to keep it despite not using it anymore. Kitchen Confidential was a great read and I laughed and learned as Anthony Bourdain ate and talked his way around the world.

If I were one to make assumptions, I would easily believe that both should have been happy and living life to it’s fullest. I would think that they should have received the best mental health treatment possible and question what could have possibly not been right in their lives. But I know better, so I will not assume and I will not judge.

I have no idea if either Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain had been under the care of a doctor and/or therapist, if they were on medication or if they even sought mental health treatment at all. I don’t know and at this time, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they suffered illnesses that they did not heal from. And for that, they lost their lives.

Putting my sadness for their families and friends aside for a minute, I’m hoping that this news serves as a wake-up call to everyone. I hope that Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s death by suicide will be the catalyst for more significant conversations and proactive change in this growing healthcare crisis. May the legal system mandate stronger legislation that supports mental health treatment. May society stop stigmatizing those who are not well and start responding to them like they would had they been diagnosed with cancer.

Their deaths cannot and should not be in vain. Their loss must gift society with a long needed reality check that mental illness is real and – if left untreated or improperly treated – lethally dangerous. It sounds terrible to say, I know, but please let the pain of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s loved ones be the reminder to you, if you are the one suffering, that you are wanted and needed. And for the family members of someone with a mental illness, may you never be the young child burying your parent or the one saying a premature goodbye to your spouse or the parent doing the unthinkable, burying a child.

I am so appreciative that the announcement of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s deaths included their cause of death. Thank you for sharing this sad news with the world honestly. Thank you for putting the kibosh on what could have been endless rumors and speculation. Thank you for saying loudly what so many say with only a whisper – that they died by suicide.

It was on my first date with my husband that he told me about his own experience with suicide. As a 17-year-old high-school senior, he was living with only his father when the police knocked on his door to inform him that his father had committed suicide earlier that day while he was at school. The memories immediately thereafter remain a blur to my husband, perhaps an emotional protection from the depths of his loss. The impact, however, has been lifelong.

When I listened to my husband tell me that night about his father’s suicide, I recall taking notice of the factual delivery of his words. It was as if he told me that his father died of a heart attack. No skirting around his words or lowering his voice when the word suicide was spoken. He explained that his father died by suicide – that he had depression and it led to his death. There was no anger and he never thought of his father as selfish. He simply shared with me the sad reality that his father had passed away.

I won’t pretend to understand what my husband went through, or what these families are experiencing now. I can’t imagine what my father-in-law, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and so many others have endured – a pain so severe that they believed that death was necessary. I can only hope that one-day people who are living with mental illness will get the care they need and be able to live their lives with joy and happiness.

My deepest of condolences go out to the Spade and Bourdain families. May each of their memories be for a blessing.