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In the past months, so many of you have shared in my family’s sadness of losing our beloved Jon. WhileKatieJon1 a huge tragedy for us, it has also been an incredible learning and growing experience. We have seen how the concepts of human and social capital come into play in good times and especially in bad. In a strange way, we have become rich even in our loss.

Many of you know my daughter, Katie. This is from a piece she composed for one of her friends. I thought I would share it with you.

By Katie Rose
I have always been trapped in my head—trapped by fears and social anxiety. I felt so trapped that there came a point in which I boxed myself in and withdrew. Being around other people became so torturous for me that I began hiding in my room.

It wasn’t that I failed to recognize that I had these issues. I was well aware, which made them even more frustrating. My mind was telling me one thing, but it always lost to fear and anxiety.

Then I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my brother. Jonny’s death made me question everything I ever KatieJon2knew, and though I would give just about anything to rewind to July 26, 2015, so I could save his life, I have experienced more personal growth within the last year than I have ever had.

After Jonny died, I began asking myself questions like: If I died tomorrow would I be satisfied with my life? Did I want to live in my pain and misery? Am I living the life I want to live? Do I know what it means to be truly happy?

The answer to every single one of these questions was no. In a terrible yet beautiful way, my brother’s death lit a fire under my belly. His death has given me a whole new perspective on life and the way I live. The lessons I have learned in the past year could fill an entire book. Here are few of my favorites:

1. When one story ends, another begins—and that story always has a silver lining. The silver lining in the new story of my life is that I have learned to never take any days for granted. I took my brother’s death as a point of reflection: Did I want to live in pain everyday, or did I want to love life, and have it love me back?

2. I do not hide from my emotions anymore. If I am scared, I acknowledge that I am fearful and move on. If I am sad, I let myself cry and keep going. I now invite myself to feel every emotion I can (fear, happiness, anger, sadness). These are the emotions that force the most personal growth. They give us insight into where our minds are. They tell us that something is missing in our lives, and they call for us to find a way to resolve these needs.

3. Being vulnerable with one another is the most beautiful thing we can experience as humans. In a society with so much competition, vulnerability equalizes us. Vulnerability allows us to show our imperfections without shame.

When tragedy happens, you can either let it overcome you, or you can sit with the pain that you feel long enough to harness it and turn it into power. I’ve chosen to harness my pain.

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