Life in Death

It is with a heavy heart that I write this. A young man that I worked with died this past weekend.

But he didn’t leave us. He was taken from us. Killed early Sunday morning.


It is beyond awful. It’s so entirely tragic.

A great kid, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. And he was just a kid. He didn’t deserve to die. Not yet. Not even close to yet.

A co-worker said to me yesterday, ‘This isn’t something that happens to you. You only read about this happening to other people.’ It’s true. It’s so far from normal. It’s so the 5 o’clock news. It’s not in your office. It’s not something you bring home with you.

People might say that it didn’t really happen to us. But it did. We’re all affected. We’re all grieving.

I didn’t know him. I might have met him once. But I honestly don’t remember. Some people like glorifying the fact that they knew a person in a situation like this. There is no glory to be had here.

But even though I didn’t know him, I’m still in pain. A lot of people I know are in pain. A lot of people who I don’t know, like his family and close friends, are in pain. So of course, I’m in pain too.

I can offer positive thoughts and prayers. But that doesn’t do much when you just lost a loved one. I understand that no words are powerful enough to bring him back. But some words can provide a bit of relief. Or guidance during a time of loss. Or maybe they can at least be a distraction from the misery. Maybe they are worth nothing but a few wasted minutes, but anything might be a welcome break:

Death is rarely something we wish upon anyone. Especially not upon someone so young. With so much life yet to live.

But death happens. It always happens. We know it’s coming…for all of us. You can’t hide from it. You can’t out run it. You can’t out-health it. Death is inevitable. Sooner or later, it will catch up to you.

So it was going to happen to this young man…but eventually. Down the road. To be taken so soon. So violently. I know have preached embracing death, but not like this.

So we remain stunned. In shock.

Denial. Anger. Sadness. Depression. It’s all there, inside everyone close to him. And it’s natural. It’s normal. Own every single one of those feelings. Do not pretend they don’t exist. Do not bury them internally. Do not mask them with alcohol or drugs. And do not, under any circumstances, isolate yourself with them. You are not alone in your feelings. You have loads of support. All of us here are affected in some way.

If you can’t find anyone, come find me. Ask around at work. A few people know who I am.

I am here. Probably just to listen, or to commiserate. I know how helpful someone just sitting there, showing they care about this tragedy too, showing that they care about you, can be during a hard time.

Many people look for acceptance as the happy ending to their grief. I don’t know that acceptance will ever come from something as terrible as this. It doesn’t matter if you find the guy who did it. It doesn’t matter if he’s jailed or sentenced to death. This, this cutting short a life, the life of a fantastic young kid, will be hard to ever truly accept.

It’s not to say you will never be OK again. You will…over time. But the only acceptance you will probably have, is to accept the fact that you will never have acceptance here.

You must shift your end goal from acceptance to something else. But what is that something else? You don’t want to go through the rest of our lives miserable. So how do you get past this? How do you grow from this? What can you learn from this? How can this horrible tragedy have any meaning? Any silver lining?

The way to make someone’s death worthwhile lies in your hands. It lies in what you are doing in you’re your life now and what you plan to do with your life now that this young man is gone.

Through this death, through his death, find life. And that will make his death, while still tragic and extremely sad…it will make his death a catalyst for change in you. Your change could affect the world. That could make his death a catalyst for change in the world.

Do the thing you always wanted to do. Just go do it. Do the thing that you think will be the greatest achievement in your life. Do the thing that will make you most proud of your actions. And will make this young man, this amazing young man, look down upon you from the afterlife…and smile like the proud coach that he is.

Greatness can be born from anything…even tragedy.

The way of the samurai is found in death. That means to live so much that if you did die today, that you would die proudly knowing that you sucked the marrow out of life. I hope and pray this young man lived all the days of his life. From the sounds of it…he did. I hope and pray that you live all the days of yours.

If you haven’t been living, right now, right after this tragic and terrible event, would be an amazing time to start. You would honor this kid’s death by doing so.

RIP Jonesy