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A Tribute to the Courageous Tripathi Family

The brave and loving family of our friend inspires us and many others through great strength despite their terrible loss.

The past couple of weeks have demonstrated in heart-wrenching ways how bad things happen to good people. The Boston Marathon attacks inflicted terrible harm on people doing good things for good reasons and on those touched by their deaths and injuries. And the Tripathi family, known to us through our friend Akhil, a distinguished member of the insurance IT community, suffered first from false associations of their missing son Sunil with the attack at the end of last week, and now with the discovery of Sunil’s body.

As a byproduct of the irresponsible rumors linking Sunil to the attacks, someone shared with me a YouTube video made by the Tripathis and their friends. The video was an appeal for Sunil — known as “Sunny” to his loved ones — to come home.

[Video linked within our related story: Unirisx CEO Akhil Tripathi's Missing Son Falsely Associated with Boston Marathon Attack .]

No normal person could watch the video without being deeply moved. It was a reminder of the deep love of families that is seldom noted, but it was a look into a particularly warm, devoted, gentle, understanding, compassionate and reasonable group of people that extended from the immediate family to a constellation of friends that seemed more like an extended family emanating from a core of compelling individuals. The beauty of the sentiments seemed to create a paradox — was the circumstance of this young man’s disappearance better or worse, given this wonderful group of people who missed him? It was certainly better that he was so loved by such loving people. But it was more tragic at the same time that this beautiful and promising young man could somehow be separated from all that love and wisdom.

No reasonable person could believe that growing up in this family could have anything to do with any act of wanton cruelty. The video was thus itself a powerful refutation of the rumors. But for many who knew Akhil, it was also the first news of his son’s disappearance. That, not the false rumors, was the real story for us.

Since last Friday morning, we have been following the Tripathis' Facebook page and hoping that the story might have a happy ending. Tragically that was not to be the case. News arrived that Sunil’s body had been identified in Providence, near his apartment, and circulated rapidly because of the publicity arising from the false rumors of his association with the Boston attacks. The reactions were striking: people who knew nothing of the Tripathis prior to the rumors expressed tremendous shock and dismay as a result, I believe, of their having learned about the family through the video, Facebook page and other sources.

Shortly after confirmation of Sunil’s death, the Tripathi family issued a message that bears the extraordinary compassion, courage and wisdom of the original video, and which stands as an inspiration to find greater humanity within ourselves amid this terrible tragedy:

On April 23, our beloved Sunil was discovered in the waters off India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island.

As we carry indescribable grief, we also feel incredible gratitude. To each one of you–from our hometown to many distant lands–we extend our thanks for the words of encouragement, for your thoughts, for your hands, for your prayers, and for the love you have so generously shared.

Your compassionate spirit is felt by Sunil and by all of us.

This last month has changed our lives forever, and we hope it will change yours too. Take care of one another. Be gentle, be compassionate. Be open to letting someone in when it is you who is faltering. Lend your hand. We need it. The world needs it.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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