Words seem insufficient when discussing topics like suicide and mental illness. Those who’ve had firsthand experience with either know just how deep their scars can go. The grief they produce is not something that can be “fixed” with casual prayer or Christian platitudes. It does not dissipate with time. It is a weight that strains against the very confines of hope, and one that must be carried for years to come.
It’s been almost a year since Rick and Kay Warren lost their son. As founders of Saddleback church, the two have not only struggled spiritually with the death of their child, but had to endure the storm of publicity surrounding the event. In her first in-depth interview with Christianity Today regarding Matthew’s death, Kay Warren spoke of the overwhelming sorrow and anger she still battles a year later. About two weeks ago, those emotions exploded into a Facebook message that has since gone viral.
“As the one-year anniversary of Matthew's death approaches, I have been shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to 'move on.' … I have to tell you – the old Rick and Kay are gone. They're never coming back. We will never be the same again.”
Amidst the pain though, Kay revealed how God has continued to remain sovereign throughout their lives. It does not make the loss any easier to bare, but it has helped Rick and herself move forward in life. When questioned further, Kay described the way this savage faith has led them both to pursue ministry opportunities for families whose members struggle with mental illness.
“That's a hard one. I've encountered each person of the Trinity in this last year in ways that I don't recall before. It's all about God. He is sovereign. He could have saved my son. He could have healed him. He could have prevented him from taking his life. At the end of the day, it is all at God's doorstep.”
Contributing writer Katherine Britton has advised Christians on several ways to comfort those in grief, warning that the best of intentions can often lead to the worst responses.
“After my mom passed away recently, just a couple weeks before her 53rd birthday, I’ve suddenly found myself on the receiving end of sympathy. People have approached me with amazing love and kindness, so very well-intentioned and wanting so badly to help. I appreciate the sentiment so much—the simple acknowledgement that life is irreversibly different is more helpful than you can imagine. And yet, the expression has sometimes made me shake my head. There’s sometimes a hilariously wide difference between the intention and the bizarre outpouring.”
In all things, we must remember that Christ is with us. We may not understand why bad things happen the way they do, but we can rest in the knowledge that God knows what it is to lose a child, and that He loves us more than we can possibly know.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." – John 16:33
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com