“Take care of one another,” they urged. “Be gentle, be compassionate.”
In the midst of their “indescribable” grief, the family of Sunil Tripathi, the student who was mistakenly identified as a suspect in the Boston marathon bombings only for his body to be later found in the Providence river, have reached out to thank people who had sent messages of support.
In a statement posted on the Facebook page they had set up in the hope of bringing Sunil safely home, they said they were grateful for the prayers and gestures that had poured in from around the world.
The Tripathi family failed in their attempt to save their beloved “Sunny”, who is thought to have committed suicide, but they did find sympathisers and admirers from as far afield as India, Australia and Nashville, Tennessee. People were in awe of their courage, their willingness to forgive.
“As we carry indescribable grief, we also feel incredible gratitude. To each one of you – from our home town 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,” the family said.
“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.
The family of the Brown University student had been trying to remain positive since he went missing on 16 March, without his wallet or phone. He had been suffering from depression and had suspended his philosophy studies. The family produced a cheery home-made video, urging him to come home soon. On the video, Mr Tripathi’s father, Akhil, originally from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and who runs a software company, said: “Come back son. Call us. Love you – Dad.”
Then, last week, Mr Tripathi was wrongly identified on social media as the suspect being hunted by police in Boston investigating the marathon bombing.
Thousands of people on Twitter and other social media claimed Mr Tripathi’s name had been mentioned in Boston police communications. The family’s phones started to ring with poisonous callers and their web page had to be taken down.
When it was revealed Mr Tripathi was not the man police wanted, the family hoped to turn the bad publicity to good and to remind people he was still missing. But the worst of all possible endings played out earlier this week when Providence police confirmed that a body recovered from a river running through the city was that of the student.
The student’s family said that, in lieu of flowers, people should consider making a donation to a memorial fund that was to be established in his name. They said that as soon as they are able to they will select several organisations to support with the money. It is likely they will help groups focusing on mental health and environmental sustainability.
The family’s statement reflected its hope that what happened to Mr Tripathi would persuade people to treat each other with “delicacy”.
“Take care of one another. Be gentle, be compassionate,” said the family.
“Be open to letting someone in when it is you who is faltering.
“Lend your hand. We need it. The world needs it.”