i just lost my brother

"My Brother Mark and Me" by nakedpastor David Hayward

“My Brother Mark and Me” by nakedpastor David Hayward

My dear friends and readers…

It’s with great sadness I announce the death of my dear brother Mark. I’m the oldest of 5 kids and he was the second. He was 57 years old.

When my family (me, Lisa and our 3 kids) took a vacation to Costa Rica, we took a 3 day layover in Toronto where I got to see my family. Mark has been estranged from the family for most of his life. I worked hard to maintain a relationship with him, and most of the time it was very difficult and sometimes impossible. But, gratefully, I insisted this time and we arranged a brief visit over beer and wings at a local bar in his town. Out of the 100 flavors, we chose Buffalo. They were delicious. We ordered enough for him to take home leftovers. This was just 7 days ago. I snapped this photo of us together before we parted. Forever.

We talked and laughed together. We shared our struggles and joys. Although his joy was running out. He was obviously going through a very difficult time. That’s more obvious to us all now.

Because I just found out that he took his own life shortly after that visit.

He was a very independent, non-conformist type of person. From the beginning. He lived totally off the grid with zero commitments. I guess it finally caught up with him and he felt he had no more hope of a future. I don’t really know. That’s just my guess. He left no note.

Our last correspondence is on my iPhone. Us texting back and forth. Me trying to convince him to meet me. Him finally relenting. Us agreeing on a place and time. Me promising to come alone with no surprises. We had three hours together. I gave him a little money for groceries and stuff. He said he was going to the Beer Store.

His last words to me were, “Well, at least I’m going to have a good night tonight. Thanks to you. Love you brother!”

Now he’s gone.

This is hard. I’m going to miss him. I flew out early Friday morning to be with the family and help out. It’s weird. Today I’m going to view the body alone. The coroner doesn’t recommend it but I feel I must. I’m bracing myself for an unpleasant viewing.

So, I’m taking a few days break from my usually intense internet activity… although I’m sure I’ll be popping in now and then because, alas, this is where my friends are. Please forgive me for being less present. I know you understand.

Thanks for your thoughts. Thanks for your support.

Peace on your path!



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79 Responses

  1. Lydia says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts. If there’s anything you need, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  2. Thanks Lydia. You’re so so kind.

  3. Peggy says:

    So sad to hear of your loss and your brother’s hopelessness. Grateful for a God who knows the heart and mind of each Beloved, regardless how broken, lost, or ill. Your brother is in loving hands.

  4. Jacquie Kernick says:

    David. I am sorry for your loss. We never know when our visits will be our last. I hope your return to be with family will be a time of healing…it’s tough going. Sending love to you. Jacquie x

  5. Theodore Dage says:

    My deepest condolences. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I remember what I went through after losing my brother; if I can be a sympathetic ear, feel free to message.

  6. Curt Clark says:

    Our prayers are with you and your family. Sorry for your loss

  7. Jo says:

    I’m so very sorry – so glad you got to see him but still all so very bittersweet & messy – thoughts & prayers for you & the family.

  8. Ellie says:

    Oh David.. so sorry for ur loss . Words fail me and I work in acute mental health and see this too often.. just very sad.. thoughts and prayers to you and ur family.. love ellie and family

  9. bryanhill says:

    Praying David…

  10. andy says:

    Very sorry to hear about your brother.

  11. Daniel says:


  12. Jim says:

    Family is the sum of all things in life. May you, and the rest of the family, find comfort in this time. I am sorry for your loss.

  13. Sabine says:

    Sososo sorry for you, David! 🙁 … May heaven comfort you like only heaven can! Peace to you and your family.

  14. Eric says:

    Sorry for your loss.

  15. Nancy Waldo says:

    I’m so sorry, David, and grateful with you for that visit. You and your family are in my prayers.

  16. Mark Zane says:

    This is never easy! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  17. Liz Ray says:

    So very sorry to hear that, David. Thinking of you…

  18. Caryn LeMur says:

    May you have strength and peace during the viewing. I sat with my mother’s body for a time, so, I understand that particular need. Bonnie and I send our deepest sympathy to you and the family.

  19. Peppy Ulyett says:

    What loss and sadness – I hope you will find consolation that there was joy there when he could draw on the brotherly love you gave him. Go gently as you grieve. Thoughts and prayers surround you.

  20. Erp says:

    My thoughts are with you. Several years ago, I also lost a younger brother to hopelessness and suicide.

  21. Sharon Bulmer says:

    So sorry to see this news today. May the Lord be with you all. Please pass on our condolences to Joan and Dick.

  22. Jerrine Regan says:

    Very sorry to hear this. Praying peace and comfort for you and you family.

  23. Kate hanch says:


    Sending my condolences your and your family’s way.

  24. Gary says:

    So sorry David.

  25. Brian says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your brother. You don’t know me, but I’ve enjoyed your writing and cartoons for quite a while. I am glad to hear you got to spend that last visit with him that I am sure you will hold dear until you see him again.

  26. Brian says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your dear brother. I am glad you got to have that final visit with him and to share your hearts with each other. I know you will hold that dear until the time when you see him again.

    I bid you peace

  27. Matt says:

    David, sending my condolences to you and your family. In this difficult time please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Glad to see you got to spend time with your brother.

  28. Candace says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, David. I am sure that it meant so much to your brother to reconnect with you. Cherish the memory that time together, because he obviously cherished that time with you. Sending virtual hugs and sending the light of peace and comfort to you and your family.

  29. Nerys Johnson says:

    Take as much time as you need and should, thankfulness and shock go hand in hand xxx

  30. Billie Thompson says:

    I know your heart is heavy at this time an we all wish you didn’t have this pain…The truth is your brother is free now and enjoying a peace he’s never known … just hope this gives you a little comfort. Thank you for he your cartoons that manage to share wisdom and joy .

  31. Brent C says:

    David, so sorry for you and your family – and, thankful with you that your persistence to meet made it possible to “connect” with your brother even for a brief moment. He knew your love and acceptance and those last laughs together will something that you can cherish in your heart. Regardless of the reasons, the end of anyone’s life journey causes us all to reflect – but more so when it is a brother. Peace and love to you and all your family as you pause to grieve. – Luv and hugs from your Bro in Winnipeg

  32. Tom Aitken says:

    So sorry to hear of your sad news. May God embrace you .

  33. Shary Hauber says:

    David I am so sorry. Losing a sibling is always hard and must be especially hard when he took his own life. Will be remembering you in the coming days.

  34. Pat Raube says:

    Oh David. My heart aches for you. I am so, so grateful you had the time with him, though in a way I imagine that adds to the loss. You are held in the prayers of many, many. And I truly believe your brother is held in pure love.

  35. I am very sorry for your loss.

  36. Dianne says:

    VERY difficult,sooo much emotion.My thoughts are with you.Dianne

  37. Bo McGuffee ("irreverance") says:

    This is terrible news. I’m so sorry, David. Fwiw, we’re all with you in spirit.

  38. Libby says:

    you have been such a source of support for so many whom you’ll never meet….may our sentiments here bring some small measure of comfort…reinforcement that the sharing of our journeys somehow lightens the load….

  39. Carolyn Kohlenberger says:

    I’m sorry you lost your brother and in this way. I wish you, and all your family, comfort and peace.

  40. You’re all amazing. Thanks.

  41. Kris799 says:

    My condolences, David.

  42. terri jo says:

    No words but to say “i am sorry for the loss and sadness over Bryan’s passing”. It is so fortunate that your meeting gave him a measure of comfort that night in T.O.

  43. Steve says:

    So sad. Great that you had those hours together.

  44. Scott Amundsen says:

    David, my heart ached for you reading this. My brother’s name is also Mark; he is a year younger than I and we have been estranged for thirteen years with no end in sight because he will not tell me what I did to make him so angry with me.

    I like to think that your final visit gave your brother a measure of comfort. In all likelihood he had already made his decision so at least he knew there was someone who loved him and who would miss him.

    Damn, I know these words are little help but just know my thoughts are with you.

  45. Jemma says:

    Condolences. May you be surrounded and upheld by love.

  46. Wendy says:

    I’m sorry, David. My heart is with you. I have no words of comfort. Because no words will be comforting. Just know I’m thinking of you and yours right now.

  47. maura says:

    deeply sorry. i have 3 suicides in my family and the questions just come up – over and over. there’s no right thing to do or to say so you just have to know that you did not break him, nor could
    you fix him. it sounds like you were there if ever you were needed and that he was aware of your love and desire to help and that has to be enough.

  48. Derek says:

    Hope some solace has found you and your family.

  49. Casey Sousa says:

    I guess this is a time when we, as your fans and friends, get to support and love on you as you continually give us so much. I am so sorry to hear of your loss… I just can’t imagine. Many prayers for you and your family.

  50. Sandy says:

    David, you have a lot of friends who love and care for you as is evidenced by all the comments. I carry you and Lisa in my heart and as you helped me and my family through a similar tragedy, I offer you any help I might be able to give. Sorrowing with you….

  51. Nancy says:

    What a terribly difficult experience. I am so sorry.

  52. Kristin says:

    David my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this excruciatingly painful time. I too lost my brother to suicide. No words are adequate. Peace.
    Kindest regards, Kristin

  53. Mike says:

    David, as you grieve treasure your grief. It’s a gift from God to prove the love you have for your brother. Your separation will be over at the resurrection of all when we’ll all have a Damascus road experience that will change everything. When Mark sees his own personal history in contrast to God’s endless mercy he will be amazed and transformed by that love. (Romans 11:32) [My 14 year old son died exactly 10 years ago in a tornado and my sister by suicide. I don’t know how you feel, but I can assure you God’s plan will blow our minds]

  54. Arlene Perez says:

    Hugs and prayers. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  55. Jean says:

    David, I am so very sorry to hear of your brother’s passing. I am so glad you got to see him when you did. I will pray for you to have and feel grace to somehow find rest during these hard times, and to be able to do what you need to do.
    I lost my oldest brother several years ago, in sad circumstances. He was 59.

  56. Bob Lundgren says:

    Thanks for telling us the story so we can grieve with you. The only thing that helps is the sharing of the grief among those who care so you are not alone.

  57. Tam Hodge says:

    I am deeply sorry. Praying now for you and your entire family…

  58. Lynn says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and your family at this difficult time. I hope you are comforted by the knowledge that he felt and experienced your love in his last days.

  59. Jackie Kehler says:

    What a beautiful gift you gave him: your gentle insistence to spend with him.

  60. Whollyfool says:

    I’m so sorry David. 🙁 As Bo said above, you are loved, and we are with you in spirit.

  61. Thanks everyone. I was flooded with condolences yesterday and it really did help.

  62. Kent Lindsay says:

    Oh David, our hearts are deeply broken with you and yours at this trying time. Underneath are the everlasting arms. With you and your family fellow “friend of sinners”

  63. Kent Lindsay says:

    We share a deep sadness David as a family. My sister at 40 years was suddenly taken from us unexpectedly as well in February of 1996 at the hands of a murderer (yet to be found and brought to justice) in Vancouver, BC. She would of been 60 years young last January

  64. marilou adams says:

    Marilou here from seminary and the summer beach vacations. I don’t remember if you and Lisa were at the beach the summer Ron’s brother committed suicide. Just wanted you to know that others have been through this (it always comforts me to know that other people have gone through similar experiences) and we will be praying for you. This is hard, hard, hard.

  65. thanks everyone.

    how can i forget you Marilou??????

  66. Brigitte says:

    We are so very frail. The Easter message is where the rubber hits the road. God dwells with sinners and only with sinners and becomes one of them. Read this today on missing Michael Spencer six years after his death, an essay “When I am weak…” Permit me the link: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/64245

    I pray the Lord’s richest comfort for you and your family.

  67. Kerry (Doggart) Wilson says:

    Mom, Scott, and I send our deepest condolences. I personally have great memories of Mark…I clearly recall on one occasion standing in the “lobby” at Parkside and chatting with him for the longest time. I would have been around 8 years old, and he’d be maybe 17 or so. It takes a special guy to spend that kind of time conversing with a little kid. I’ve been sad ever since hearing this terrible news.

  68. Thanks Kerry. He was a special guy!

  69. purvez says:

    David, very sorry to hear about your brother. Wishing you strength during this time of grief.

  70. Philip says:

    Oh David, my heart and my tear ducts weep for you and yours. I feel sick. Gut wrenchingly sick hearing about this. Like an amputation of a limb without any anesthesia, every memory a severing.
    Allow me to share just a little bit of my story as of the last week. It may not be of comfort, but comfort may be found in that you are not alone in your suffering though each alone suffers. Death has been my close companion this last week also as my mother just died at the age of 65. She went to the hospital for a basic surgery which led to an inffection that sent her body into septic shock and and within a week she had died. While she lay in ICU on life support, my wife and I paid her a visit, one amongst many. She, being heavily sedated with all the dressing of life support, was seemingly unaware of her surroundings. It was during this visit that my wife recommended we read to her, letting her know she was not alone. Immediately I recalled what mom often described as her favourite children’s book, “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. I began reading the story to mom even though she was unresponsive and as I neared the end of the reading I looked up at her to see tears running down her cheeks. When it came to the time of her death, we returned to the hospital to see her, but this time it was different. This time she was gone. It was surreal. It was pain. It was loss. The time had come for the family to leave her room, but I lingered behind in order that I be the last to go. I just could not leave. How could I leave? On my way out I turned and looked back at mom laying alone in her room, I went to her side, threw myself on her and wept. I wept and I wept and I wept. And as I lost myself I sang to mom the song from that story, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be” Still gripping on to her, my wife gently raised me up and guided me to the exit, and as I was leaving I returned my gaze to her one last time and I saw the glisten of my tears streaming down her face and it was then I knew, I was not leaving mom…my tears were forever upon her.

    Moms funeral was on friday. As a tribute to my mom I will read her that story once more.

  71. Mike H says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss David.

  72. Ingrid says:

    I am so sorry. I too lost a brother to suicide. May the peace that passes all understanding fill and surround you.

  73. Nice says:

    I’m so sorry :'( you have my deepest sympathy…please know you are not alone. Praying for all of his family and hoping he is fully at peace now <3

  74. Thanks again everyone. It’s been rough and I need to simply rest now. Your words of support helped to carry me through.