A Letter to Kate Spade’s Daughter

Dear Bea,
Though I don’t know you, you’ve been on my mind since I heard the news of your mother’s death on Tuesday. You see, we now have something in common. We lost our mothers at an age that is much too young.

My heart breaks for you, and I am so sorry that this circumstance was not prevented. I hate that she’s gone, the publicity of it all, and the stigma around mental healthcare.

While my loss was nearly 30 years ago, I remember the initial emotions when you realize that your new normal does not include the one person you need most in this world. I remember the final arrangements being made, the peripheral family & friends coming to watch me, and shepherd me to different activities so I didn’t have to be there for the grown-up stuff. I remember what seemed like an endless sea of people who came to pay their respects and say goodbye, and being mystified by their adult tears.

And then one day, the last speck of dust settled.

And while I can’t say with certainty when that will be for you, I do know it will happen. Your new normal will take shape. I know you can’t see this now. But as time marches on, you will grow from the girl you are now into a woman capable of a great many things.

So, from one seasoned member of the motherless club to another, here’s what to expect as you embark on this journey.

You are not alone. Though you might not know anyone else in your school or circle of friends who has experienced such a loss – we are are out there. Finding our way. And you will too.
You will never stop missing her. Her hugs, her voice, her smell. Her presence on the other end of the telephone. This is the part that there is no sugar-coating. I’m sorry.
You will wonder what she would have thought about decisions you make as you grow up. And when you do, I encourage you to talk to those that knew her or keep a journal. Write down your memories of her, and revisit them when you need to.

Milestones and holidays will seem incomplete. This doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be happy – your graduation, 18th birthday, wedding day… Focus on the good and enjoy these moments as you grow.
You’ll begin taking notes on what other friends’ moms do – how they cook, clean, discipline or speak to your friends. You’ll meet nurturing women along the way and good ones will take you under their wing. Let them. You might not even know these women yet. They will be sent your way. Know that.
There will be things that unexpectedly scratch the wound. Hearing friends complain about their moms, being introduced to new people and having them ask an innocent question about your mom (because everyone at a younger age is assumed to have one). Those scratches, over time, will start to form a callous and then they won’t be felt as much. Again, just part of the new normal.

You will realize how strong you are.
You will have a greater appreciation for life.

You’ll have bad days, and that’s okay.
You’ll have great days, and that’s okay too.

And one day, if you become a mother, your heart will break all over again, and explode with new love at the same time.

But for now, dear one, while the particles of life as you know are still swirling in the air and it’s too cloudy to see out, give yourself grace to grieve. You can be angry, mad and sad – that does not diminish the love you have for your mom. Use the support system around you. Scream. Cry. Take deep breaths. And know that this loss does not define you.


If you’ve also experienced the loss of your mother at an early age, you’re not alone. Check out my new group, Lilac Rising, to be uplifted and connect with other women who have the same experience. There, we tackle life skills we didn’t get growing up and move forward in life, while creating positive connections with others.

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