So often it was easy to suggest that we celebrate a sports figure's life rather than mourn his death.
That's what I'll try to do, as difficult as celebrating is right now.
Tim Sassone's passing is too shocking. It came too soon. He was too young. Most of us here at the Daily Herald are too shaken.
This newspaper's hockey writer -- the respected dean of local hockey writers -- was family to us. He was a fixture on the sports staff, someone we depended on for decades and who rarely, if ever, disappointed us.
Sassone wasn't merely a really professional hockey writer; he was a really professional journalist.
If young writers were smart, they would look at Sassone as an example of how to cover a beat. One thing that always impressed was how Sassone went about his business on a Hawks' game day.
Sassone customarily attended the skate in the morning, stayed at the United Center all afternoon and still would be fresh for the faceoff at night.
I would show up for the game, shake my head and look at him like he was nuts. Meanwhile, he didn't think anything of it.
As far as Sassone was concerned, that was the right thing to do so he did it. He always did what was the right thing for a newspaperman to do.
Send Sassone to cover a Cubs or White Sox game and his report would read like it came from a longtime baseball writer.
Sassone could do a Bears game, a Bulls game or a golf tournament. He could cover any sport because that's what he was trained as a sports writer to do.
Hockey became Sassone's passion, however, all the way to the point when he was nominated for the sport's Hall of Fame.
Tim Sassone loved the Blackhawks but was able to walk the line between fan and journalist
There's no cheering -- or jeering -- in the press box and he abided by that policy as best he could. However, that didn't mean he couldn't groan under his breath at a Hawks' turnover, squirm at an ill-advised icing of the puck or slam a notepad on the counter over a bad goal.
For some reason, I remember Sassone's reaction to the mistakes more than his reaction to a Hawks' goal, big save or victory.
It was as if he expected the Hawks to do their jobs as hockey players as much as he expected himself to do his as a hockey writer.
We can only imagine how much Tim Sassone would have enjoyed Teuvo Teravainen's debut in a Hawks' uniform.
No matter how much Sassone experienced as a hockey writer -- getting to know the likes of Denis Savard and Jeremy Roenick, the frustrating playoff losses, the arrival of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, finally the long-awaited Stanley Cup championships …
Hockey, the Hawks and the NHL never seemed to get old for Tim Sassone.
I'll miss that in him, just as in recent years I missed the old days when we were younger and had time to play a lot of golf together.
This, folks, was one of the great grumblers and club-throwers in the history of the game.
There was less time to hit the links in recent years because Sassone preferred to spend much of it with his wife and kids, whom he loved so much.
I'm sure that some day soon I'll be able to celebrate, smile about and raise a toast to the life Tim Sassone shared with the rest of us here at the Herald.
For a while, though, I'll be mourning the loss of a friend and truly professional newspaperman.