A miserable anniversary



My brother


A year ago today, the worst year of my life began.


A nephew called to tell us that my brother had apparently had a major heart attack.  An hour or so later, he called again, to tell us that my brother—my only sibling, and, since the death of my parents in 2003 and 2005, the only survivor, besides me, of my nuclear family—had died.


He had just about finished building a “cabin”—really, it’s a beautiful lodge—up in the forests of northern Idaho, not too far from the Canadian border.  His widow, my sister in law, has now moved up from California, and, having decided that she ought not to spend this anniversary alone, my wife and I have come up to visit her.


This is the blog entry that I began writing within minutes of hearing that my brother had died:




This is the newspaper column that I wrote in the wake of the news:




Not a day has passed during the past year without my missing him.  Painfully.  And it’s been a very rough year for other reasons, too.  Some of them very public, some of them not.


“Hell is other people,” Jean-Paul Sartre famously wrote.  I take his point.  They can be.  But true hell, it seems to me, is the irremediable absence of those we love.


Written north of Sandpoint, Idaho, on 23 March 2012.




“Politics and the Approach of General Conference”
“5 underrated Disney movies”
“Sustaining the Brethren”
New Testament 115
  • Tom O.

    I’m very sorry for your continuing loss. Our family lost a very beloved and precious member in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon, and without exaggeration I have mourned his loss every single day from then to the present. I have faith in the promise of the Resurrection, but that doesn’t always alleviate the acute sense of loss and loneliness brought on by the death of a loved one, the missed shared memories, experiences, etc…. I hope you realize that there are lots of your readers who feel for you and care.

  • Rick

    I can empathize with you here for I miss my best friend, my father, every day, and although the pain dulls a tiny bit over time, it never ever ceases, and for that I am sorry. Although we miss them so very much, it is such a wonderful thing that we can love someone so much that even a temporary absence like this hurts that much. Thank you for your time you spend on here sharing your anecdotes and wisdom with your incredible sense of humor. It is a blessing. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers.

  • http://kirstinsquest.org Scott Pierson


    The Church is a beautiful institution where we can mourn with those that mourn. All who know you love you and the magnificent work that you do, and we all stand with you in our prayers in your behalf.

    Blessings to you and your family.


    • danpeterson

      Thank you, Scott. I’m grateful for your note.

  • John Ziebarth

    It’s hard for me to know the worst part of missing kenneth. The one overwhelming thought is that he was a gigantic presence- not just his exceptional above-average height but his spiritual-personal command presence- there was something incredibly massive. There was a certain comfort knowing he was around- something … a feeling of safety. Sorry, my words go down [on this computer] but they don’t create the loss I feel. I cannot imagine your loss and the rest of his family.

    • danpeterson

      You’ve captured something of it. Thanks.

      He was really my big brother, and not just in terms of age. Rock solid and dependable. If he said he would do something, he would do it.

      I miss him more than I can express.