On the first anniversary of their son’s suicide, Saddleback Church founders Rick and Kay Warren are using the painful experience to uplift others, incorporating Facebook, YouTube, a mental health seminar and worship services scheduled at Saddleback campuses this Easter weekend.
“The old Rick and Kay are gone. They’re never coming back,” Kay Warren wrote in a March 13 Facebook post with more than 3.2 million views and more than 10,000 supportive comments. “We will never be the same again. There is a new ‘normal.’ April 5, 2013 has permanently marked us. It will remain the grid we pass everything across for an indeterminate amount of time … maybe forever.”
Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren referenced the experience in encouraging viewers to attend services scheduled April 17 through Easter at the church’s 12 campuses in Southern California. The Warrens’ son Matthew killed himself at age 27 in his Mission Viejo, Calif., home after a lifetime of mental illness. He had spent the previous evening with his parents, giving no indication, they’ve said, of the impending suicide.
“During the past year I’ve often been asked, ‘How have you made it? How have you kept going in your pain?’ And I’ve often replied, ‘The answer is Easter,'” he said in a video posted to YouTube. “You see, the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus happened over three days. Friday was the day of suffering and pain and agony. Saturday was the day of doubt and confusion and misery. But Easter, that Sunday, was the day of hope and joy and victory. Here’s the fact of life. You will face these three days over and over.
“And when you do, you’ll find yourself asking, as I did, three fundamental questions,” the pastor said. “Number 1, what do I do in my days of pain? Two, how do I get through my days of doubt and confusion? Three, how do I get to the days of joy and victory? The answer is Easter.”
On Facebook, Kay Warren wrote of her difficulty in dealing with those who have expressed expectations that she should have been able to put the suicide behind her.
“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,'” she wrote.
While thousands offered ‘utterly amazing support’ through prayer and an ‘unbelievable volume of cards, letters, emails, texts, phone calls, and gifts,” she wrote, many seemed to wonder when things would return to normal.
“Because these comments from well-meaning folks wounded me so deeply, I doubted myself and thought perhaps I really am not grieving ‘well’ (whatever that means). I wondered if I was being overly sensitive — so I checked with parents who have lost children to see if my experience was unique. Far from it, I discovered.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press