Ian Aaron Strauss

Ian Aaron Strauss

A brilliant light shining on in our hearts

Ian had an insatiable curiosity about the world. As a child, he loved being outdoors, collecting fossils, and observing bugs and reptiles. He spent many summers in Colorado with his father, exploring ancient ruins, riding horses, and going white-water rafting. He was a keen observer and could remember the tiniest details about things that interested him.

When Ian was older, he continued his quest for knowledge and enjoyed watching documentaries, sharing what he learned. He took an interest in social issues and politics, and his sharp memory made him an excellent debater.

“Ian could argue with the best of them,” his mother Beth said. “We always thought he’d be an amazing lawyer. He had an incredible memory—and he was hilarious. He could mimic people in a way that brought us to tears.”

At Ian’s memorial service, his close friend Troy shared that Ian always hugged him and said, “I love you, brother,” when they parted. At heart, Ian was kind, sensitive, and caring. When he was three, and a man came over to clean their pool, Ian took it upon himself to give him oranges from their tree and thank him for being there.

He loved passionately—but there was a special piece of his heart just for his family. He was closest to his first cousins: Cheyenne, Cierra, Sophie, and Evan. They were like his siblings and together created some of the happiest times in his life. He inspired them with his generosity, playfulness, boldness, and love.

From a very young age, Ian had the ability to think in profound ways. He was so observant; it was as if he saw beyond what everyone else did. At age six, when his aunt Laura passed away, he asked his mother where bad people go when they die. She said she didn’t know and asked for his thoughts.
“I think they go to one side of heaven,” he said.

“So, there are two sides of heaven?” Beth asked. He nodded, so she inquired further. “What makes them different?”

“One is closer to God.”

“Can you move to the side that’s closer to God?”

“Yes,” he said. “If you say you’re sorry.”

As a child, he talked about becoming a paleontologist and working on dig sites but later grew more reluctant to speak about the future. He struggled with school, even more after he began actively using substances. Ian skipped classes and dropped out of high school. He slept all day and was out all night; he acted recklessly and dangerously and became aggressive toward the people he loved. Ian became someone they didn’t recognize—and he began losing hope in ever being his old self again.
The last time he talked with his mother was over text, before taking a Xanax cut with fentanyl. He messaged her: I love you, too.

Beth is a therapist and practices trauma-informed care. She has worked at treatment facilities for addiction. Her son’s loss is unbearable and has taught her about humility and being even more compassionate toward herself and others.

“Now I know, not everyone who suffers from addiction had abusive childhood. Sometimes, even parents who are good enough, parents who deeply love their kids, lose them in this devastating and traumatic way.”

Ian’s mother, Beth Strauss, provided the information for this narrative.
January 29, 1999-November 2, 2019–Age 20

Portrait Artist: Theresa Clower
Narrative Writer: Angela Day

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