This is how I rediscovered my purpose after I lost my dad

To: Those struggling to cope with a loss

From: Tiffany Kay (As told to Lauren Brill)

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To those struggling to cope with a loss,

Six years ago, I was on a serious downhill path. I never thought I would take my own life, but I did feel as though life was not worth living. All I wanted to do was sit and stare at an unpainted wall.

I was so lost.

On December 4th, 2014, my father, who was 57 years old, died from a heart attack.

My dad was more than just a loving, involved and protective father. He was my mentor. He had a big personality and a determined attitude.

Shortly after high school, my dad found a lug nut on the sidewalk on his way home from a catering job. He turned that lug nut into a ring. That’s when he decided to apply to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. After getting rejected, he showed up at the dean’s office with the ring he created, insisting that the school give him a shot, which they did.

When my dad wanted something in life, he was relentless.

One time he read me a quote that said, “He didn’t tell me how to live. He lived, and let me watch him do it.”

It wasn’t until I started to cope with grief that I realized the gift my father gave me was the example that he set for me.

My father was Scott Kay, a world-renowned jewelry designer.

It wasn’t until I started to cope with grief that I realized the gift my father gave me was the example that he set for me.

My dad introduced me to jewelry when I was five years old. By age nine, he started taking me to the office. It was so exciting to me. We had a small workshop in the back. It was amazing to see somebody’s hands create these designs. Then, I would look up on the wall and see pictures of jewelry that my dad created. His work was in magazines. So, as a little girl, my dad seemed like a hero. And his company was magical to me.

I don’t know if I ever really said, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

I just knew it was going to happen.

In college, I studied jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. At the age of 21, I started working for my dad’s company.  The second that I stepped foot into that building, my passion took over. I felt as though I tripped into a world made for me. Everything was interesting to me. Every day for nearly ten years, I watched my dad work harder than I had ever seen anyone work before.   

When my father died it was completely unexpected. 

My family and I were so lucky to have an incredible support system, consisting of friends and family.  But as life started to move forward and fewer people stopped by the house, the reality of my dad’s death began to sink in, which was very hard.

Shortly after my father passed, a decision was made to sell the company, but I continued to serve as a vice president. It was a confusing time for me. I struggled to focus on projects that I previously worked on with my dad.  Depressed and not healthy, every day was a battle.

Tiffany and her dad, Scott Kay

After a year, I was drinking a lot and showing up to work late. My life didn’t seem important to me anymore. My mom and several close friends and family members convinced me to go away for 30 days to a treatment facility for depression. Reluctantly, I agreed to go. I went through grief therapy and developed tools to respond to challenging situations and emotions.

Meditation was a large part of my treatment, but with ADHD, it was hard to sit still and concentrate. A therapist recommended knitting to clear my head. I loved it. It allowed me to be calm and present. It centered me.

When I left treatment, I felt like a different person. I had new tools to tackle my life and my pain. Also, I decided not to return to my dad’s old company. Instead, I decided to move on from the past and start over.

After a few months, I realized I didn’t want to give up my passion for jewelry design. And at the time, knitting was such an important part of my life and my healing. So, I decided to marry the two.

Inspired by the textures and patterns in my knitting, five years ago, I started my company, Tiffany Kay Studio. We have grown tremendously through the years, with more than 250 designs in our collection.

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Starting my company enabled me to talk about my dad again. It brought me back to memories of him working in the art room.

Losing someone you love is never easy. But I want you to know that it’s OK if you’re not healing or moving forward as fast as other people. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. I wish I asked for help sooner. Also, don’t sweep your feelings under the rug by drinking or doing other self-destructive behaviors. Express yourself and lean on the people that love you.

When I lost my dad, I also thought I lost my future.

Thankfully, I had friends and family there for me along with my dad’s example, which showed me never to give up. For me, that meant getting the help I needed to heal.

Once I did, I not only rediscovered my purpose, but I also found a way to stay connected to my father.

I am happy to be home again.

It can get better.

Check out my Jewelry!

With love,

Tiffany Kay
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