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My dad... and the pain he left for us

‘Please let it help someone’

By Katie Palmer of Hawley

My dad, Pastor Brian, with one of his two grandsons. Contributed photo

I have a story to tell. A story I hope will help someone. Please let it help someone.

Pictured is my dad, Brian, and some of my favorite pictures of him.

My dad was an amazing man. He loved our family and God fiercely. He had a quick wit... an amazing sense of humor. He had a love of nature, which he shared with me, and I’ve passed along to my sons... his grandsons, whom he loved more than anything.

My dad was a kind, giving man. He spent his life helping people. Especially through his life’s work. First, as an occupational therapist, and then working with at-risk teens. Finally, through his true calling, as a pastor.

My dad with me and his grandson, Oliver. Contributed photos

My dad was an approachable, down to earth pastor. All were welcome in his church. He saved, prayed for and helped many through his ministry. Dad preached with humor and love. He reached so many, but was unable to reach himself.

You see, on Jan. 29, 2021, without asking for help, without reaching out, without those closest to him knowing the depths of his struggles or knowing the weight of others troubles he carried... my dad... my smart, funny, kind dad took his own life.

He thought he was sparing us of his burden. Truth is, he spared us nothing. In fact, he left us with some things. He left us with sadness, despair, guilt (could I have saved him?).

And so many questions... Was it my fault? Should I have talked to him more? Texted him one more time? Squeezed in one more visit?

My dad, Pastor Brian, with me and my husband and his wife at our wedding. Contributed photo

He left behind... his wife of 33 years, me, his only child, two grandsons, a brother, a huge group of family and friends, and two congregations.

What he thought was a solution, was actually a wrecking ball to my heart. An emptiness that will be there all of my life.

You see, a girl needs her dad. My boys need their cherished grandpa. When someone makes this choice, it is FOREVER. And it leaves behind sadness that doesn’t cease.

Through my sadness I cling to the good memories. As I cannot grasp anything else. If you, or someone you know is contemplating ending their life, remind them they are loved -- they are so, so, so loved. They are someone’s entire world. They are needed here.

There IS a way out of their darkness. Out of their sadness. If only they allow themselves to collapse into the love of those around them. Tell them you will help bear the weight of their struggles. Listen to them, love them, pray with them, surround them with support. Be proud of them for seeking help for that takes courage and strength.

My dad at his church. Contributed photo

Do this before you can’t.

Reach out to your local mental health resources.

Even if you only have a small inkling something is wrong, don’t ignore it.

Reach out NOW.

Don’t wait.

I’ll always live with what ifs, and I don’t wish that on anyone.

My dad was a huge piece of my life. A piece I can never get back and will forever be incomplete.

What I CAN do? What my Dad would WANT me to do is try to help others. Even if it is just one.

You might not know me well, or at all, but I will listen. I will be there. If not me, please find someone, and share your despair.

Let it out, get it off your chest.

There is a way out.

I promise.

In loving memory of my dad, Pastor Brian.


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