Time has flown by in some ways, and in others, it seems to have stood still.
It’s been just over two years since we lost our friend Jordan. He is so incredibly missed.
A lot has changed in that time, a lot of healing has happened, and a lot of sadness felt.
I know for me, it has been a process of regret, guilt, acceptance, and forgiveness.
It has not been easy.
As many of you know, this column was started at a time when our industry had lost too many, too quickly, to suicide. Though just one life is one too many.
We as an industry, as friends who were mourning, as colleagues who were in shock, decided it was time to do something, that we couldn’t stand by and lose more of our family so we took action and groups were born, supports were put in place and columns like this came to be.
Thank you for that, Jordan. Thank you for all the lives you have saved through these initiatives that you inspired. We will never know that count, and I’m grateful for that.
Reflecting on Our Loss
I asked a few friends in our community if they would like to share a few words in memory of Jordan, on this the second anniversary of his passing, in reflection of who he was and how he impacted their lives.
I am so thankful to them for sharing this part of themselves with all of us to share in.
These words really just show how incredibly missed Jordan is and how incredibly important it is that we continue to talk, to care, to support, and to never be silent or leave others to go silent.
Here’s what Melissa Fach shared:
“It was weird to be asked how I was feeling about Jordan this week, because it was July 8th that I posted on his FB wall and said, “I thought about you today and smiled about happier times with you.”
I posted it because it was the first time in almost two years that I looked at this pinned tweet about him, and I didn’t feel like I had been punched in the heart.
I laughed on July 8, randomly remembering how he called me and said funny things, and how he danced at an event.
The first year after Jordan died, I felt tremendous guilt. He was down a lot in the last couple of years. He mentioned he was looking for work a few months before he died; I could have tried harder. I admit, I had a lot of family stuff going on and wasn’t focused enough.
Every day for the first year, I asked myself if things could have been different had I tried harder to be present. It seriously sucked the life out of me, and I went a bit numb. Later, I realized that a lot was going on that he didn’t share. It took time to figure out that I can’t fix everything, and I couldn’t fix this.
Jordan’s death taught a lot of us in this industry to check on your friends more, reach out more often, and to look for and be there in times of crisis. As crushing as it is that he is gone, he taught us a lesson that has been very critical during the pandemic.
I will miss his smile, his laugh, that beautiful light he carried, and those amazing hugs for the rest of my life. I feel honored to have known him.”
And here’s what Kelsey Jones shared:
“This is hard to write since I’ve never really put my thoughts about Jordan on “paper” before. But to know Jordan was to instantly smile.
He was so much fun to be around that SEJ took him as our “date” twice when we had extra tickets to the U.S. Search Awards. He always had a sly smile, as if you and he were thinking of the same joke (and we often were).
I enjoyed seeing him at Pubcon every year and then talking and staying in touch throughout the year, as we all do in our SEO family. He was just….a lighthouse of fun. Someone who was quick with a compliment, insight, or offer to help.
I, like probably many others, wish I could have done something differently that would have helped him. Maybe I should have sent more emails or Twitter DMs. Maybe if I had called on that day he would have answered.
But all I know now is to hold my friends and family close and remind them frequently that I care about them.
I hope anyone reading this can feel my love for Jordan’s friendship and this community in their own heart, and know if they are ever struggling, there is a group of compassionate, friendly, and caring people here to help you.
Even if it’s just to listen or say they are there. We love you Jordan.”
Our Community Can Be & Will Be Better
Jordan Kasteler, as many of you know, was an incredible person with a huge heart. He was also a hurting person who clearly felt he couldn’t handle what life was dealing him. This breaks my heart.
I swore when Jordan left us that I would do all I could to try to help encourage people to reach out for help, to not be afraid to talk, to be more comfortable (as much as possible) to show their weaknesses and struggles.
I have seen others take this pledge as well.
I saw Search Engine Journal take this pledge as well in the form of this column.
We as a community can and will be better because of Jordan and what he has taught us.
Friday Focus is all about creating a space to share our struggles and to be open and honest especially in those areas where it is most difficult.
This column is a space to give voice to those who have been afraid to speak up or who want to help others find their voice when they are in need of support.
I look forward to the future of this column and the amazing opportunities that it will continue to provide to those who have a story to share to help those who are struggling.
This is our focus and it was from the start.
This is a space to show others that they are not alone and to encourage a dialogue that will eliminate the stigma around mental health issues and the struggles so many of us (myself very much included) face day to day.
Thank you all for being here and being a part of what we are doing.
A special thank you to those of you who have made yourselves vulnerable and shared your struggles and challenges on this column. You are what makes this whole thing work.
In the coming months, we will be moving to publishing a monthly piece rather than weekly and really focusing on staying true to our roots which is sharing real-life stories of struggles, challenges, and moments of triumph.
I look forward to what’s ahead and continuing to see the spirit of Jordan live on in the good that can come from our community supporting one another.