Gaining Closure

HammerDeath is… difficult. It’s the waiting and the news and the disbelief. It’s the silence oh the silence the silence that no one can break. It’s that hole where someone used to be and the ones left behind. The ones, not quite whole, left behind. It’s confusion and anger but with no one to blame but maybe yourself because you should have done more but what could you do? The world has stopped and gone too fast.

We got the news last Sunday night. A guildie of mine, by the name of Hammerstein, had passed away. He had been fighting Stage Four small cell lung cancer for months and the whole guild had been rooting for him. But then he has dropped communication for a couple weeks and then the fateful text on Sunday.

Hammer was one of those people who quietly made the world a better place. He wasn’t flashy or dramatic but he brightened the world just a little bit for everyone he talked to. Hammer helped anyone with anything- he aided another guildie set up her entire gaming rig over the phone. He was there, supportive, cheery, and optimistic.

Hammerstein was a good guild member, but he was so much more than just that.  He was a human being, thinking, feeling, suffering.  Hammer was a part of us, the human part of us.  The part that found joy in all aspects of life.  We supported Hammer with his medical expenses and difficulties and he supported us against our every day toils and troubles, a listener to confide in.  Hammer was real.

And in pain. The little bit that Hammer described to us seemed almost unbearable. He couldn’t stand, couldn’t move, and was undergoing intense chemotherapy. And yet he still found the time to log in and chat with us.

We set up a Go Fund Me account to help with transportation (since he could not drive) and sent him all the support we could.  And I hope that what we did helped, if even a little.

And then that fateful Sunday.


There seems to be this misconception that the immediate response to the news of a friend’s death is big and dramatic.  The waterworks come out and the world seems to end.  In reality, it’s… it’s not like that.

It’s emptiness.  This feeling of vast, wide, and unmovable emptiness.  Like all you do is futile. It’s quiet and private but it hurts more than anything else in the entire world.

And then you see the messages from the other people in your guild. And that’s when the tears come.  But they aren’t satisfying.  It’s like the emptiness manifested.  Streams of nothingness down your cheeks.

It’s a problem but there’s nothing you can do to fix it.  You can’t talk it out, reach a compromise, nothing. The worst part, you can’t talk to the friend.  And in my case, I never got to say good bye.

I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never experienced death first hand.  It’s always been people I knew of or people I knew distantly.  But this one was close.  This one was someone who I used to talk to every single day.  And now, this horrible feeling of nothingness and lack of closure.

The following week was rough. I was dealing with my personal feelings but on top of that, I also had to break the news multiple times to multiple people.  How can you tell people something like that? What could you possibly say? I was also very worried about another one of my friends.  She was closer to Hammer than anyone else.  They had called each other almost daily.  When her and I were talking about it, it was the only time I’d ever heard her cry.

More bad news, we learned that Hammer didn’t have very many family members.  They were trying to track down his step brother, who he had never met, to help put together some sort of burial service.  It was beginning to look like we were the only ones who could give Hammer some sort of memorial.

Back when, as a guild, we had first started offering moose carries, one of the first people we wanted to get their moose had been Hammerstein.  We knew about his condition so we wanted to do something nice for him, something to cheer him up and show him how we were rooting for him.  Unfortunately, we never got a chance.  Hammer never logged in and his spot remained reserved.  We ticketed a few GMs about this but there was nothing that they could do.

Then suddenly one night, my friend who used to talk to Hammer all the time gets a call.  It was from Hammer’s cell phone.  Just a bit apprehensive, she answered and found out that it was the step brother.  He had been tracked down and had found the texts from her.  The two talked for a long time and a plan was decided upon.  We were going to get that moose for Hammer.  His step-brother would log on and we would carry him through a Heroic Archimonde kill.

Saturday night arrived and Hammer’s brother logged into his toon.  The majority of the guild was informed that this was not Hammer, this was his step-brother and we were going to finally get Hammer’s character the moose.  Led over phone by a woman he had just met, playing a video game for the first time in his life, carried in a raid by a team of 20 people, cheered on by a guild of over 1000 people, Hammer’s step brother defeated Heroic Archimonde and earned the Grove Warden.  Hammerstein the Dwarf Hunter mounted up onto his majestic moose and leapt into the sky, never to come back down.


This was the most beautiful thing I have ever been a part of.  It didn’t magically solve all the problems, didn’t revive Hammer from the beyond.  But it provided closure.  It was the final salute to a brave man who fought so valiantly and touched the lives of so many.  It was our final good bye.

Our lives are like sound. We come into contact with each other and resonate uniquely and then eventually fade away. We create beautiful chords and melodies and songs with thousands of emotions but in the end we end like we begin. Loved.

In memory of Hammerstein <oTQ>

There will be a memorial service held at 8pm CST (server time) tomorrow on the realm Nesingwary/Nazgrel/Vek’nilash in remembrance of Hammerstein.  If you would like to say a few words, please contact me or any of the other officers before the service.  The service will be held both in in-game chat and in the guild’s mumble.

18 thoughts on “Gaining Closure

  1. Pingback: 2017 New Year’s Resolutions | Growing up in Azeroth

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. Khizzara said it much better than I could. Thanks for writing such a beautiful, moving tribute to your friend.

  3. I am so sorry to read of your loss. it is never easy losing someone you hold close to your heart, be it in-game or irl. My guild is part of my family even though most of us have never met face to face and I can only imagine the pain I would feel if I lost one of them as you did. What you did for him posthumously is such a tribute I just know he is looking down on you all smiling in thanks. Treasure the memories you have of him when you experience those feelings of loss and remember all the good times you had and know that he treasured those memories and moments too. Love and kisses to you all.

  4. I came to this story from facebook group and I wasnt expecting to hit so hard with it. I read it and your words really are amazing way to describe death and loss. I lost my mother last June, its coming up on 1 year already, and i am reminded every day of everything she gave to me, and who I am because of her.

    Death is hard, not just the event itself, but the days, months years after that you always remember, the memories that never will fade. It truly feels some days I could pick up the phone to call, and always remember they arent there.

    Thats probably the hardest part when you first realize, they truly are gone and no matter how much you want them back, it’s best to move on and just be glad that you had the time you did with them, focus on the positive, and it does get easier in time.

    Thanks for this story, just another reminder why i have played World of Warcraft for 11 years, and we are never alone.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. This was one of the most beautiful tributes I have read in a long time. You can just feel the love y’all had for him and he for you. Sending much love to all who knew him and continued prayers for your healing. *hugs*

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss and extremely touched by what you did in Hammer’s memory. What a beautiful statement about the impact he had on all of you and I’m sure he felt the same about you guys.

    /all the hugs

  7. Once again, I am deeply sorry for the loss you and your guild have gone through and I’m glad I was able to attend the ceremony to pay my respects, he seemed like a fantastic person

  8. I’ve seen death in my life. I’ve lost 3 of my grandparents not so long ago (their time has come), but there was an absolutely heartbreaking episode of losing my college best friend at his 20th birthday. It hit harder, because hey no one would die so young, this was impossible, unexpectable and unbelievable. I remember everyone going astray, no one knows what to do, and how to live with it further. There cannot be any other solution but to brace yourself, try to live with it and provide the most possible care and presence for relatives and people who suffer most. It really helps – the distraction from your own feelings and caring about them who need it most.

    What you guys did is one of the most heartwarming things ever. There are no words to describe, but it really shows that you cared to finish this guy’s things he didn’t finish in this world. It shows how you cared of him and not just your feelings about him. A wonderful tribute.

  9. Nazgrel is my realm — this is a wonderful tribute. i don’t know you or Hammer, but i will attend if i can.

    • If you send me a whisper at 8 server, I can direct you to the location. It’s a little out of the way but it was a place that meant a lot to Hammer. I’ll be on the toon Fussypants-Nazgrel. We will also be broadcasting the mumble info right before the memorial when everyone is gathered if you would like to join in there as well.

  10. i’m sorry for your loss, the friendships made online are stronger than in person in some cases and i’ve had similar emotional experiences with people, what has touched my heart is the things you and your guild went through for hammer and i really appreciate it, i would love to be able to join this guild so if possible please provide realm/faction details so i can migrate.

    • The guild is on Nesingwary/Nazgrel/Vek’nilash Alliance side. You can send an in-game message to Fussypants-Nazgrel or an out of game email to thefussypants(at)hotmail(dot)com for more information. However it might be a good idea to wait until tomorrow, I’m not sure if g-invites will be going out today.

  11. I’m so sorry. It’s always so hard to lose someone. But I think you all must have brought Hammerstein a great deal of comfort and support in his last months. You helped him escape into another world, a world where his character was healthy and strong and heroic. You helped him by being his friend, giving him someone to talk to and hang out with, so he wouldn’t feel alone. I imagine that he must have enjoyed being able to give back to your community, that he felt useful and appreciated because he was able to contribute in spite of his illness. He had all of you to give him something to look forward to, to motivate him, to bring him joy. He needed you, and you gave him your friendship, time and love, and received those things back from him in return. I hope it comforts you to think of how much better his last days were because of your guild, and to know that he is no longer suffering. The sharp edge of your grief will dull with time, but your memories of him will last forever. *hugs*

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