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The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Death: It's just life

I am beginning to wonder if this thing called life is a test. Between you and me, I don't believe that it is, but when I get really vulnerable (hungry, angry, lonely, tired or sad), my monkey mind takes over.

Last week-end, two of my friends died. One in the city I used to live in, which is hundreds of miles away, and the other right here in the city where I now live.

Jules died after a battle with lung cancer. Jeremy died in a freak accident while "hiking" near Albany, N. Y., when he lost his footing and fell 60 feet to his death over Kaaterskill Falls. They both died on Saturday, June 13.

It's not about me.

Most people do a bit of navel-gazing when close friends and family members die. We think about our own mortality, and wonder about abstract things like what people will discover when they go through our "stuff." We mourn, and cry, and return to our navels, and venture back out, and then realize how much we love people.

I want to be a better friend, wife, daughter, sister, and citizen. I want to listen better, and help more, and care about myself less. That's why most of us go into the social work field; we want to help. People, systems, environments, legislation...

Instead of focusing on the losses I have experienced in my life, and especially this past weekend, today I want to fuel my goals and dreams with the love I feel for Jules and Jeremy. And hopefully, they'll be watching from places that we will frequent together when we meet again.

--Ms. T. J.


  1. TJ, I am so, so sorry to hear of your losses.  Please accept my deepest condolences.

  2. I am so sorry for your losses.  You are right about death.  It IS a part of life.  Life on this planet is a journey to our final destination.  The end destination depends upon how we live our life and our faith in God.  Think of death as a new birth.  We leave this life and go on to eternal life - which is why we were created in the first place.  Your family members have just gone home.

  3. My condolences for your losses.

    I have had a very near death experience not quite four years ago and I have lost people who were near and dear to me, though all of this I have come to the conclusion that we all have purpose in life, we do not go anywhere until our purpose has been fulfilled. Somehow this has helped me put the whole death aspect into perspective.

  4. Oh TJ, after all you have done in the last year, and now this. Naturally, you are feeling vulnerable. But hang in there. I am glad that and proud of you for using these very sad situations to refocus yourself into the positive parts of your life. Congratulations on all that you have accomplished this year, most especially this latest challenge and very successful response.

    Know that I am thinking about you, and the families of these two men at this time and hold on to the fact that this too shall pass.

  5. my condolances for your losses.  death, expected or not, is always a surprise.  Allow yourself some space to heal.

  6. i'm sorry for your pain. i just wrote a whole post about, essentially, freaking out about the meaning of life and death.

  7. TJ

    As Jules' mom, I was honored to see your comments about her.  It (her death) is all so UNreal right now for me. However, I am so proud that she had friends like you who will sustain her memory and who use this experience to bring back in full circle what life is all about.
    Thank you!