Ask in Earnest

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The Story Behind "Ask in Earnest"

My dad, Dick Tyler, was born during the Depression in 1934. My grandparents didn’t have enough money to go to the hospital, so my grandmother, with the help of a midwife, gave birth to him on the family farm.

I believe my dad was born to be a farmer. He spent his entire life working the land, caring for the animals, providing for his family, and providing food for countless people over the course of his lifetime. Like all other farmers, he experienced numerous challenges—drought, crop disease, insect infestations, hailstorms, unpredictable markets, blizzards, breakdowns during harvest, and the long days with the hot prairie winds blowing on his neck. Yet it always seemed “right” that he was a farmer; I could never picture him doing anything else.

My dad took his own life on the family farm in September 2016.

Those who have lost a loved one to suicide knows of the incongruent feelings of unimaginable pain and complete numbness that coincide in the immediate aftermath. After my father died, my mom, my brother and I were busy in the immediate days afterwards making arrangements for his memorial service, meeting with the pastor and funeral home staff, picking out floral arrangements, and accepting the gracious offers of food, kind thoughts, prayers and help with the fall seeding from friends and neighbors. One evening I was talking on the phone with one of Dad’s friends, thanking him for his kind offering of food.

In this call, he said, “When your dad would see someone in town walking down the street, he would stop and ask in earnest how they were doing. He wasn’t asking to be nosy or gossipy, he genuinely cared how they and their family were doing.” It is one of the most beautiful things anyone has said to me about my dad since his death.

The single most important concept I want to share with others is just that: ask in earnest to help prevent suicide in farming.

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