I consider myself extremely lucky to have gone through life for 24 years before I had to experience the very difficult pain of losing a loved one. Attending the funeral of one of my friends who passed away in a car accident has been one of the hardest, most emotional things I have ever had to go through. It’s a kind of pain that even years of working at hospice couldn’t prepare me for.
I heard about Jesse Tedder’s death on my way to the hospital, when I had to pull over to cry my eyes out. I couldn’t believe it, that someone as kind and giving and positive as him was taken from us. It was hard enough to hear, but seeing your friend lying in a casket leaves a mark on your heart that I don’t think ever goes away. The Tedder family are some of the strongest, most kindhearted individuals I have ever met, and to have known their son for even just a few years is a blessing. Jesse was always smiling; he was so full of life and happiness and he was crazy in the best possible way. He was hard working, enthusiastic, and he encouraged everyone he came across. He cared about others more than he did himself, and that is a rare trait. He was a genuinely good person and he showed us what a true superhero is.
To lose someone so vivacious is hard for us to accept, because he brought so much happiness into our lives. Anger and blame are normal when grieving, and one of the big, unspeakable questions many of us are asking ourselves is “why?”. Why Jesse, How, and Why not someone else. I get it, I’ve seen it so many times in my patients family members and I even became that person when I first heard about his death. I think what we’re all struggling with is accepting the fact that everything will be different, and we have to find a way to continue living our lives without him every single day. The mistake so many of us make is thinking we have to get to this place where we’re okay living without the person we’ve lost, but I don’t think we ever really get there. We’ll always grieve, and that’s okay. Personally, I want to get to a place where I can accept the present situation and learn to live with it, not get over it. I want to remember the good person Jesse was and the happy memories I was able to have with him. It’s okay to grieve, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be sad and angry and upset and it’s okay to lean on others when you’re not strong enough to hold yourself up.
There is so much that we learned from Jesse, and not just when he was here with us. He wouldn’t have wanted us to look at this like a loss, because let’s face it, he was all about the gains💪🏼❤. The number of people who came to celebrate his life was enough to fill an entire stadium, and that speaks volumes to how many hearts he touched and how much wisdom he instilled in the 30 years he was given. Jesse was the type to lead by example. He taught us that “you have to be above someone for them to try and tear you down”. He taught us to work hard and be a good person. He taught us to smile more, at everyone. He taught us to believe in ourselves and YGWIT. He taught us to help people whenever we can, and to lessen the suffering of others. He taught us what truly matters.
No one teaches us how to grieve, because our parents want to shield of from this kind of intense, perpetual pain. Grieving is a tough subject for many people, because no one really knows what you’re going through or how to respond appropriately, but over time it gets easier. Every day gets just a little bit better, and soon we all reach a point where we can look back and appreciate that person and the time we had with them. Grieving also makes us appreciate all of the incredible, caring people who are there for us now, and that’s a really, really great thing. The funeral was the hardest day I ever had, but to be able to literally lean on my friends shoulders and cry, to hug people I have’t seen in months if not years and still feel their love, and to feel support or just a simple touch on the back from people I’ve only nodded at in passing at the gym makes me feel so grateful for those around me. To see so many people come together and show love for Jesse and each other helped me get through the toughest times during the day, because I know we’re all still grieving and we’ll always be there for each other.
I’ve felt an almost infinite range of very heavy emotions this past week, but if I’ve learned anything from Jesse and his celebration of life, it’s to appreciate the little things and take advantage of every opportunity, because life is too darn short. Jesse wasn’t afraid of anything, especially not death, because he always said he lived a great life. He went beyond doing things that made him happy; he challenged and pushed himself, he gave his time to help others, he was completely fearless, he made an effort to not only tell his friends and family he loved them but he showed them, he gave his time to others, he was successful yet impressively humble, he had his goals and he worked hard to achieve them and he never ever complained. He was a truly special person. I consider myself a very adventurous person, but Jesse has taught me even more to say yes to new opportunities, to work twice as hard in every part of my life, to always see the glass not half full but full to the brim, to take a challenge head on and never doubt myself, and to show the people I care about that I love them by being present. Jesse showed us what it means to truly live your life to the full.
I didn’t hold it together at the funeral, many of us didn’t and that’s okay. We cared about Jesse and if you knew him, you would know why. He was impossible not to love. The funeral gave me closure but I still cried myself to sleep last night because I miss him. I think the best thing you can do in a time like this is to remember the good times and to spend time with the people you’re lucky enough to have in this moment. Most importantly, be kind to others because that is always appreciated. You don’t have to relate to the situation or be grieving yourself to lend a helping hand or a kind word. It’s okay to simply let someone know that you care and that you’re keeping their family and loved ones in their thoughts. I know that’s what Jesse would have done, even to a complete stranger.
In honor of the Wolverine, Jesse Micah Tedder. We will continue to remember you, love you, and carry on your legacy.