MICHAEL H.K. COHEN
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COHEN, Michael H.K. Adventurous Traveler, Mandarin Speaker, Embraced Life in Beijing and Boston Michael H. K. Cohen, on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Cherished and beloved son of Stephen M. L. & Carol Fishman Cohen. Loving brother of Andrew, Sarah and David Cohen. Adored grandson of Nancy & Dr. Albert Cohen and Eileen & the late Dr. I. William Fishman. Michael grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, attended the Commonwealth School in Boston and graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California. Fluent in Mandarin, Michael moved to Beijing, China after college and spent the next three and a half years working at early stage Chinese companies and exploring the Far East. An enthusiastic and curious traveler, he took every opportunity to venture out, visiting 27 countries around the world and some of the most remote regions of China. When he returned to Boston in late 2016, while mapping out his future plans, Michael began to work as a freelance translator, using his elegant writing style to bring Chinese fantasy novels to English-speaking audiences. Michael settled into life in Boston, building connections in the young professional community, preparing for his post-China career, and falling in love with a woman he had known since high school. Until December 2017, Michael remained the same solidly grounded and engaged person he had been throughout his entire life. But in December, without warning, he slid into a depression from which he seemed to be emerging during his final weeks. His decision to take his own life – a life of so much accomplishment and promise – was completely unexpected and shocked everyone who knew him. Since Michael's death, many have written about how special he was and how fortunate they were to have known him. They recall how he served as a leader and mentor for Jewish students at Pomona and the other Claremont colleges, and as a role model for students dreaming of setting out for Asia after college. They admire how he built connections to Jewish communities in China and wherever he traveled. They marvel at his encyclopedic knowledge of music and his remarkable talent for mixing songs to create mashups so professional that people would play them at parties. They remember how he combined his love of travel with a vast knowledge of the intricacies of loyalty point programs, allowing him to explore the world in style on a limited budget, and the pleasure he derived from helping others do the same. They reminisce about his ever-present smile and the warmth, depth and intelligence behind it. Most of all, they recall the sheer pleasure of his company, how good he made them feel, how free they were to be themselves around him, and how much they will miss him. Michael cared about people in the purest way. He loved them for who they were and because he wished the best for them, without guile and without asking anything in return. As one of his close friends wrote, "What you saw was always what you got with him, and what you saw – if you were lucky enough to be his friend – was a truly delightful, generous, easy-going, fun-loving human being." Michael had so much goodness, so much capacity to bring happiness to others and such a bright future. The world is a lesser place without him. A private funeral service was held at Or Emeth Cemetery in West Roxbury, Massachusetts and a memorial service is planned for a later date. Please do not send flowers. Remembrances may be made to Moishe House International Fund, Shalom Park, 5007 Providence Road, Suite E216, Charlotte, NC 28226. https://donate.moishehouse.org/checkout/donation?eid=165891 Levine Chapels, Brookline 617-277-8300 www.levinechapel.com


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Published in Boston Globe from Mar. 17 to Mar. 18, 2018.
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Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
September 20, 2018
I didn't know Michael, but I wanted you to know that I appreciated your candor and bravery in speaking about your profound grief and Michael's battle with depression. I heard your story on the podcast, The Trouble.
I am so sorry for your loss. Your story has resonated with so many people and will, I am sure, help many other families and individuals. I sincerely hope that this knowledge, along with your cherished memories of Michael, provide some comfort to your family in the coming months and years.
Peace to you all.
Susan Lazear
June 10, 2018
I didn't know your son or the family. For some reason I came across his obituary in a Google search of something not at all related. My sissy committed suicide on 2/20/15 bc of not reconnecting with our mom, who passed away 2/21/14. I'm so sorry for your tragic loss and bc I still have issues and sorrow from my loss, I think in some way I was guided to read this obit to help me. Again, so sorry :(
Jennifer Rone
May 6, 2018
Dear family and friends. I just read the shocking news. This is such a terrible loss. How Michael must have been devasteted and in pain to leave you all . I never forget your warm love for him, when we visited you in his first year. Your "Mickey...Mickey" still sounds in my ears.
You have given him so much love and affection, never forget that.

I can not find the right words - but have somewhat an idea what you are going through as you know.

You really need your friends and family now. And lots of time to grief. Please give yourself the time to keep telling to close friends what you experience. Be mild to yourself. Hold eachother close in these unimaginable emotional times.

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Love, Pieter (Netherlands)
Pieter Posthuma
May 5, 2018
Dear Carol, I am very sorry for your unimaginable loss. May peace be with your whole family. I know your spirit is strong and you are already turning this tragedy into help for others. Love, Margaret
Margaret Downs
May 1, 2018
I heard your story on NPR and am forwarding it to two family friends who lost their 22 year old son and the other their 25 year old daughter. Both took their own lives after the onset of a sudden and short depression.I am forwarding this to them and think it may help them feel less alone. Thank you for your courage.
Loti Gest
April 30, 2018
Dear Cohen Family,
I heard your story on NPR today on KGOU here in Oklahoma. Thank you so much for sharing the story of your precious son Michael and please accept my condolences for your loss. I appreciate your wanting to start a public dialogue in search of a way to prevent suicide from happening. It seems this is very much needed. We have a daughter who was hit suddenly with depression and suicidal thoughts in her senior year of high school. She is now a freshman in college and slowly still recovering. Thank you again for sharing what happened to your son. Because your family is willing to share (and also the family of Madison Holleran was also willing to share her story back in 2014) we know to be ever vigilant as we seek a cure for her depression. May God bless you with peace and comfort and strength in helping others, even as you grieve the loss of your dear Michael.
Judy
April 30, 2018
Dear parents, siblings, relatives, friends and all those around the world fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Michael H.K. Cohen,

You do not know me. I heard the Cohens speak on Here and Now on NPR today and I just finished reading Michael's obituary on line. My deepest condolences to all of you on your loss of Michael.
What an amazingly talented, wonderful man full of promise he was.

Michael's life and death story mirrors that of our son, Vincent, who also died by suicide nearly five years ago at the age of 26. There is so much I can say to you, but words will not ease your burden.
What has brought comfort to me, and this belief might help you, is that although my son died by suicide, he did not choose death. He died from an illness that we know so little about. He didn't want the illness or the death that it caused. Just like a massive heart attack or a quickly spreading cancer
Can destroy the life in a body, so too can a mental illness destroy a mind. A mental disease took Vincent's and Michael's lives from us. May they rest now in peace.
Brenda Paglione
April 30, 2018
May he Rest In Peace
Sheri A
April 30, 2018
Heard your story on WBUR and needed to reach out to thank you for your strength and compassion in sharing such a difficult experience so publicly. I know that others will benefit by bringing attention to this topic, and reducing the stigma. I wish your family comfort in these difficult times, and thank you for the beautiful remembrances of your son. He sounds like a wonderful young man!
Elizabeth
April 11, 2018
I was close friends with Michael in college and had the privilege of traveling with him in Amsterdam when we were both in Europe after college. Michael always brought a smile to my face and made dorm life a joy, even when we were all stressed out. He visited me for an evening in California this past summer and we had the best time catching up over drinks and burgers. It was as if no time had passed at all. I was shocked and devastated to hear of his passing last month and my heart goes out to his parents and siblings. You have been in my thoughts this spring.
Maria
March 18, 2018
Dear Carol,
I am so sorry to read this about your wonderful son. I send you and your family my condolences. May his memory be for a blessing.
Shalom,
Jan Moidel Schwartz
Jan Moidel Schwartz
March 18, 2018
Dear Carol,
I am so sorry to read about your son. I send you and your family my condolences. May his memory be for a blessing.
Jan Moidel Schwartz
Wellesley, MA
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