Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010 at 10:57 am
By: Doug Lund
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I hate when the phone rings after 11 pm. I know it’s either a wrong number or bad news.

When Linda picked up at midnight last week, it was clear this wasn’t a wrong number.

“Oh no, Steve..oh, no…” and she hands the phone to me. That’s when I first learned from my longtime Keloland colleague and friend, Steve Hemmingsen, that he had suffered the most personal devastating loss any parent can experience; the death of a child.

stevie In this case, his only son and namesake, Stevie, who, at the age of  36, suffering from secretive but severe bouts of depression, took his own life.

At his memorial service on Sunday, hundreds of family members and friends turned out to show their support and sympathy for Steve, Betty and Stevie’s sister Lois…knowing full well that is all we can do. There is nothing anyone can say to ease the agony at such a time although the words of Monsignor James Doyle and Fr. Chuck Cimpl, along with the beautiful singing of Shawn Cable, were reassuring and helped express the sorrow and compassion we all feel for the family.

At the close of the service, Steve rose to offer a beautifully crafted eulogy to his son who not only shared his name but other characteristics..both physical and mental. In Steve’s words, “He was me.”   In a voice as steady as possible under the circumstances, Steve talked about all the good times; the things that Stevie loved..and the family and friends who loved and thought the world of Stevie. But he also shared how no one was aware of the extent to which the demons of depression had crept into his son’s psyche. He masked them well.    In a note Stevie left behind, he said no one is to blame for this; he only wanted peace.  I pray that he has found that peace and, just as importantly, that those left to mourn will receive an outpouring of compassion and friendship from all of you who follow our writings here as we can only imagine what the Hemmingsen family is now going through.

P.S. this is Steve’s e-mail address:


  1. Dave says:

    Doug, thanks for explaining what happened to Stevie and to Steve and family my most sincere condolences. As a father I can’t imagine the pain and devastation of losing a child.

  2. Bryan says:

    Well said Doug. It was a simple, yet very meaningful service and I hope it helped bring a small amount of comfort to Steve and the rest of the family. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Marilyn Hedblom says:

    Beautifully written Doug. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all. We lost a doaughter nearly 6 years ago.othing in life is harder than loosing a child.. Bless them all..

  4. Joe Morrison says:

    Thanks Doug for sharing. Our thoughts and love to Steve and his family!

    “Mike” ‘n Joe

  5. Don South says:

    Doug, thank you so much for writing this.

  6. Tom and Mary says:

    We would like to send a card to Steve. Could you give us an address? Thank you.

  7. mary says:

    I share the loss greatly, I lost a daughter 11 years ago. Always a hurt but lots of good memories.

  8. Doug thank you for sharing this . I lost my son 8 years ago , he was 19 . My prayers go ouy to Steve & his family . sincerely Chiela Rae

  9. Sandra Wiarda says:

    I am so sorry for Steve’s loss. As someone who has battled the “demons” of depression and attempted suicide, my heart absolutely breaks for him. ~ Sandra Wiarda

  10. carl says:

    Doug we lost a son nearly 30 years ago there is not a day goes by that you do not think of them, time lessens the pain but it is always there. We send our thoughts and our prayers to Steve and his family.

  11. Don Covey says:

    To Steve and family: Sympathy at this juncture in life.

    Depression must be accepted by those afflicted as well as the general population as the disease it is. If it were cancer, we could know and provide support in mayn way. Depression, as well as other forms of mental illnes, must be brought out in the open. We, the general population, nust desire to grant the same help to this disease as to other accepted forms of disease.
    This does not help the Hemmingsen family, but we all must be open to helping. The shroud of shame must be a thing of the past. It is a disease which can be treated and the afflicted supported.

    Call or eamil all of your family members today, remind them that you love them and give them your contact information. If you are the afflicted one: Tell them! Tell someone. Even if you think you might be afflicted, tell someone. Help is available.

    I am not in the mental health field, directly. This is not a self-serving piece.

  12. prairierose says:

    Thank you Doug for a well written piece. I am sure Steve appreciates your compassion and support. May Stevie rest in peace and may the family draw strength from memories of the time he had with him.

  13. Carol says:

    Steve and family,
    I’ve never met you (other than on television) but I am so very sorry for your loss and just wanted to express my condolences. I have a son not too much younger than yours. From the first notice I saw in the newspaper, I was heartbroken as I have always followed your blog and remembered all the times you mentioned your get-togethers with your son, especially on the lake.
    It was obvious that you really enjoyed each other’s company. May you find some measure of comfort in your memories of our good times with Stevie.

  14. Ginger Thomson says:

    Thank you, Doug, for a compassionate and well-written piece. Steve, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this very difficult time. God bless you.

  15. Tim says:

    Thanks Doug, My heart goes out to Steve and his family I have three sons and can’t fathom the loss of one of them. It must be heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers are with Steve and his family. May God give them strength. Tim

  16. Barb Engesmoe says:

    I am a friend of Steve’s from Hendricks and am wintering in Az. Steve is such as asset to our “Little Town by the Lake” as he calls it. We are so fortunate to have him with his humor and talent and friendly disposition. Thanks, Doug for your nice a article and I know you and Steve have been close friends for yrs. Watched you both for many years.

  17. GMAX9 says:

    Doug, your post is a wonderful gift to Steve and his family. Telling those of us who live elsewhere and might not have learned of this family’s devastating loss without your kind and gentle words will help all of us to share a microcosm of their grief. Most of us didn’t know Stevie, except through his father’s recounting of their times together. Most of us don’t know Steve personally, yet through his blog we feel as though we do. Now, thanks to you, we can send him an email in hopes it will help Steve to know we care. Thank you for writing what I’m sure was a difficult column.

  18. Hemmingsen says:

    Thanks, my friend. And thanks to all who have commented.

  19. Hemmingsen says:

    Thank you all who sent private emails. I sent individual replies but somehow zapped the whole works after printing them to paper. Stevie, the computer programmer, would have helped me with that…but. Anyway, thanks to all. Steve H.

  20. I would rather be fishing says:

    Well said Mr. Lund! I thank you for that. My 40 year old son is coming to visit me this weekend. And I tell you, after reading what you wrote, I am just going to hug the hell out of him all weekend! Ya Mr. Lund, I really am. And I hope every parent takes the time to hug their child after reading what you posted.

  21. Dan says:

    Thank you for sharing the story. My thoughts and prayers go out to Steve and his family. As a long time listener and reader I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear this. My prayers to Steve and his family. Thank you for having the courage to share this story, too many people are ashamed of what has become a tragic circimstance of our society. Make God help you to heal.

  22. Brian says:

    Thanks for writting this.I to have struggled in the past with the demonds of depression.several time I was so close to ending it all so the pain would no longer be there for me.Thankfuly I called a friend who helped me get the help I needed that lead to a one month stay in Charter Hospital in Sioux Falls back in the early 90’s.
    Though not totaly free of it with medication I can function quite well.
    My heart breaks for those who suffer with this.I honestly feel God brought me through this so that I may be an encourager to others.
    I hope that Steve and his family find peace and compfort knowing their son is no longer struggleing.
    Praying for all who battle depression can take one step at a time and see just a glimmer of hope.
    God blees.

  23. Joanie says:

    My brother passed away in 1977, he had a really fast spreading form of cancer—-he was only sick for six weeks. My Mother took the death really hard, mourning on the date, every year until she passed away in 1989.

  24. Leona (Citterman) Hauschild says:

    You have my deepest sympathy for your loss of your son. May the Good Lord console you and your family. When my brother
    Ambrose Citterman passed away in 2009 ,Steve had a lot of good things to say about Ambrose, which is comforting at the time
    of losting a family menber. May God Bless your family.

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