The tragic yet powerful obituary of 22-year-old Clay Shepard is going viral. It’s bold message–to love family radically and never be afraid to ask for help–has inspired people everywhere.
The obituary, describing Clay’s death in an uncommon way, alludes to the drug overdose that caused his death. It tells of the deep love of his family and their support during several tries at rehab. But it also communicates that “even when the surface is calm, the water may be turbulent just beneath.”
“This note isn’t an attempt to assign blame for Clay’s death,” his family wrote. “We write this obituary in hope that it may provide an insight to those that need to change their behavior one night at a time.” Instead of solely using Clay’s obituary as a final goodbye, the Shepards wanted to give other families a way to understand what their kids might be going through and how they could prevent the same fate as their son’s.
Please read and pass this powerful message on to your friends and loved ones.
Here is the full obituary, via Legacy.com:
Our charismatic and beautiful son and brother died Sunday morning from a drug overdose. Clay was the youngest of four children, raised in a loving home in Apex with two brothers and one sister. Outwardly Clay looked like he had it all: Intelligence, confidence, athletic ability, height, beautiful blue eyes, broad smile, fantastic wit, and the ability to engage and forge a relationship with anyone. Inwardly Clay was sensitive and had struggles that he hid well from his close and clannish family.We loved Clay with all of our hearts, but we now know that was not enough to shield him from the world. This note isn’t an attempt to assign blame for Clay’s death. It’s not to vent our anger and frustration at a world where drugs can be ordered and delivered through the internet. We write this obituary in hope that it may provide an insight to those that need to change their behavior one night at a time. Clay was a solid student, decent athlete, and a very likeable kid. With his seemingly endless positive traits, he had the potential to be anything from a captivating politician to a brilliant engineer, but drugs began to creep into Clay’s life while he was in high school. As trouble hit, his father stepped in and forged an incredible bond with Clay. Although Clay could never be completely honest about the trouble he was in, his love and respect for his father became a lifeline over the last few years. He successfully completed drug rehab several times, but the craving that comes from true addiction was more than he could overcome.
While we always felt we had some grip on Clay’s issues, his ability to hide and disguise his addiction proved superior to our parental (and sibling) sixth sense. The worry that we have felt watching Clay struggle, has been replaced by a deep feeling of loss that now exists knowing we will never see his smiling face again. Despite these troubles, we can smile knowing that the last communication we had with Clay was a text and answer between mother and son to say “I love you”, just as it should be.
To all children, this note is a simple reminder that there are people who love you, with everything they have and no matter what you do – don’t be too afraid/ashamed/scared, too anything, to ask for help. To all parents, pay attention to your children and the world that revolves around them – even when the surface is calm, the water may be turbulent just beneath. Clay’s struggles have ended. He is finally at peace. We will miss his keen sense of humor, impersonations, cooking, plant advice and rhythm on the dance floor.
Goodbye Clay, we love you and miss you dearly.
Mom & Dad, Cole, Wade & Jess, Jean & Lucas