One week after the death of 30-year-old Pastor Andrew Stoecklein by suicide, Inland Hills Church announced its plans for services on Sunday. The church will hold a “dedicated time of worship and reflection” on the pastor’s passing instead of a regular worship service. Plans for a memorial service will be announced later.
Kayla Stoecklein, the wife of Andrew Stoecklein, also wrote a letter to her husband sharing her pain and how she will tell their three young sons the news of his death. Read below:
Mess To Miracle
To My Andrew,
Today marks one week since that tragic morning. The darkest week of my life. The emotions that I have faced this week have crushed me: mind, body, and soul. The gaping hole I feel inside now that you are gone is suffocating. Oh, how I long to be with you, right now. I would give anything just to cuddle up into your chest and hold you again.
The last few days have been incredibly difficult. There are countless decisions that need to be made to honor you and put your body to rest. What will you wear? What type of casket will you lay in? How will we pay for it? What location will be best? Do we buy 1 plot or 2? Who will speak at the service? These are questions we shouldn’t be facing. These are questions I was supposed to answer 50 years from now when I am old and grey. How do I do this without you? Why are you gone so soon? How do I tell the boys?
Today we walked the cemetery. It was surreal. Overwhelming and peaceful at the same time. We felt a small kiss from God when He graciously provided a place for you right next to your dad. Now every time we visit we can remember you both and imagine the joy you must feel now you are together.
Tomorrow I will tell the boys. The life they once knew will never be the same. The dreams they had with you are gone, just like mine. The daily routines, the daddy dates, the donut runs and the soccer games now distinctly different than before. The house will be quieter, lonelier, and duller without you. You filled our house with joy. You filled our home with fun and laughter that only comes from a dad. You knew how to crack just the right joke to cheer me up when life felt overwhelming. I miss you so much, Andrew, every single part.
I hate the loss and the pain, but there is nothing I can do to change it. There is nothing I can do to bring you back, so I will choose to lean into God. The stories flooding in are lifting me up and holding me up. The life change that is happening only comes from God, because He promises to work all things together for good, even this.
Your story, your life and your death is opening the floor for conversations all around the world. Your story is helping people to share their hidden thoughts and secret struggles with their family and friends. Your story is paving the way for an even bigger conversation about how the church can better come alongside people with mental illness, including pastors. God is using your story and this tragedy to do miracles in the lives of other people. As much as I don’t want to, I can’t help but see God’s hand in all of this.
My mind keeps wandering back to the last message you gave titled, “Mess to Masterpiece.” Just as you told the church about how God will meet them in their mess, I believe God is meeting us, right here, right now, in this mess. And my prayer today in my darkest hour is, “Heavenly Father, complete the work you’ve begun in me.” Only God can turn the greatest tragedy in my life into triumph.
I love you and I miss you with every piece of me,
— Blair Halliday