Shattering, Structuring, and Saving Communities: Exploring the Impact of Ben’s Death

Sarah Levant, Temple University

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Abstract The purpose of this study was to explore the premature death and dynamics of Ben Himmelstein in his communities. Conducted in an autoethnographic writing style, questionnaires were gathered through the social networking site, Facebook, giving access to several of Ben’s different communities. Additionally, data were collected by phone and in-person interviews. Results reflected that relationships and perspectives vary with every individual, and relationships with community members and ourselves define who we are.

Introduction During my sophomore year at Temple University I met a charismatic man named Ben. From my first encounter, I knew he was brilliant, kind, and had a certain charm that allowed him to be friends with anyone. He was special. Soon our friendship turned into a serious relationship. On May 4th 2009, Ben explained, “When you’re ready to settle down, I just hope that it’s me you pick.” We loved each other.

On May 6th, it rained heavily all day and Ben did not return my phone calls. I knew something happened to him. I thought Ben had gotten into a car accident because the roads were in poor condition. I waited for my cell phone to ring. Finally, 10:30 at night someone tried to call me. It was the fiancée of Ben’s best friend, Ally.1 I went outside on the balcony of my apartment where my cell phone had reception.

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