1 In Grief

Good Mourning – On Collective Loss

TW: Suicide




I lost a dear friend to suicide a few weeks ago. It was simultaneously the most unsurprising and utterly shocking call to receive. On one hand, I knew it was coming. On the other hand, one can never truly be prepared for that call. I’d even wondered to myself in recent months, what will it feel like when I get that news? That’s how certain this fate was. And yet, when the news arrived, the finality of it was inevitably and unavoidably jarring.


I have been in the thick of grief for the past few weeks. Shock, denial, anger, sadness, confusion, frustration, bargaining, overwhelm, exhaustion… the list goes on. But surrounding every element of this grief was love. My love for the departed. And the love of a community intricately woven together to form a safety net for my grief.

The irony? That Cass, my friend who chose an early exit (though in his mind, already much later than he’d have preferred), is the one responsible for this community; he built it. He became a magnet for the most excellent humans I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Cass gathered people in the unlikeliest of groups, and invited folks to get vulnerable, always leading by example. This vulnerability deepened our friendships to levels we could never have reached without it. If you could fight through the initial awkwardness, there was beauty on the other side. Beauty in the catharsis. Beauty in feeling seen and being known. And beauty in witnessing one another’s inner evolutions over time.

Collective Loss

My phone log from the day I learned of Cass’ death is a testament to this community. Eleven calls and dozens of texts incoming and outgoing to inform one another and lean on each other. I said “I love you” to nearly everyone I spoke with that day, and I meant it. They said it back, and they meant it too. We love each other; and we wouldn’t even know one another if it weren’t for Cass. And suddenly, we were experiencing this collective loss of a man who changed our lives.

A few days later, my husband and I hosted a gathering at our house inviting our friends to process our collective loss together. There were shouts of anger, heaving sobs of sadness, and tension-breaking laughter. It was hard and necessary and raw and real. Cass would have loved it. Both the ache and the love in that room were palpable.

A Memorable Memorial

Last weekend, we finally gathered for a memorial service. Friends traveled from far and wide to remember Cass. The weekend was bursting with opportunities to gather: dinner on Friday, brunch on Saturday, drinks Saturday night, and another brunch on Sunday. The togetherness was intoxicating. Honest tears and meaningful conversations of processing grief out loud punctuated our joy and laughter and deepening connections.

It all culminated in Sunday evening’s service, which was one of the loveliest I’ve ever experienced. The ache and the love were palpable in that room, too. The family bared their breaking hearts and let us in to grieve with them. They sang two verses and the chorus to Coldplay’s “Fix You,” and I’ll never hear it the same again. Friends spoke candidly, with both tough love and tender love.

Love Lives On

When I looked around the room, I felt Cass. Not in some great beyond kind of way, but in the quiet knowing that his impact on every person in attendance left a permanent mark. We each had a different relationship with him, and as such, we each will carry forward a different piece of him–in the way we think, the way we speak, the way we relate to others, the songs that remind us of him, the words he wrote or spoke that challenged and inspired us.

He is forever a part of us, and yet, we will go on without him. Not by our choice, but by his own, and by the very nature of time’s relentless forward march. The community he built could not keep him, but because of him, we have each other. Love is the connective tissue. After that beautiful and busy weekend, I was too exhausted to feel much of anything. But the two things I felt with certainty were loved and connected.

Thanks, Cass.




If you or a loved one are considering suicide or experiencing emotional distress, please call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, or text HOME to 741741.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    April 4, 2024 at 3:22 pm

    This is a beautiful reflection of your love for your friend(s) and his love for you. I am so deeply sorry for your loss and can not begin to comprehend what you and this group of friends has gone through but I want to send love and light your way. Thank you for sharing your feelings, for processing your grief aloud. Things like this help others who may need to process their own grief, so I appreciate your openness and vulnerability. It is clear that Cass had a tremendous impact on you and I hope that you will always be able to hold onto that love and cherish your memories of your time with him in your heart. <3

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