Rick and Kay Warren, who founded the Lake Forest, California, mega-church, still mourn the loss of their own son to suicide
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
LAKE FOREST, CA (ANS – November 4, 2016) — On the morning of Saturday, November 19, 2016, Saddleback Church and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) are partnering together for an International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a time of comfort, hope and healing, and to remember loved ones who have died.
The gathering will meet from 9:00am – 12:30pm in the Refinery Auditorium of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, and they are inviting people who has lost someone to suicide to join other survivors of suicide loss.
Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church, and AFSP will be presenting during the event, and will be showing a screening of “Life Journey’s: Reclaiming Life After a Loss.” To see the trailer, please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jn0d-TP7KjM.
“In remembrance, we will have a button-making machine to make a button from one of your favorite photos of your loved one. Bring your chosen 4×6 photo with you,” said a spokesperson for the event.
To register, please go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/survivors-of-suicide-loss-day-tickets-28898328679.
Rick and Kay Warren lost their own son to suicide
Rick and Kay Warren are one couple who know all too well about the grief of losing a loved one to suicide, for their treasured son, Matthew Warren, died in April of 2013, from a self-inflicted gunshot, at his Mission Viejo, California, home, after a lifelong struggle with depression and mental illness.
In a previous press conference Rick Warren, described the loss as being “the worst day of our lives.” He went on to say, “It was a very difficult year and you don’t get over it — you get through it — and the press was incredibly gracious, incredibly kind and gracious, and we’ll always be grateful for that.”
Kay Warren then said, “We’re not the same people. The Rick and Kay who were alive on April 4th, 2013, are not the same people that exist since April 5th, 2013. And some of that is changes I wish hadn’t happened. I wish our hearts hadn’t been broken and crushed and those are changes that I wish hadn’t happened.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anybody else. But at the same time, I know my own hope is stronger and I minister from a stronger place of hope than I ever have before because I have a very clear recognition that the truth of the Gospel is either true or it’s not and if it’s not true then we just need to forget it all, go home, call it a farce, call it a fairytale and go home.
“But if it’s true; if Jesus did raise from the dead; then that means that Jesus is alive today, and Matthew is alive today, and we’ll be alive someday when we leave this life, when these bodies die. And that truth has given me I think a deeper confidence in sharing with people as I enter into their pain, their suffering, their sorrow, whatever it is that they’re struggling with, I’m more sure of heaven, and of God’s mercy, than I have ever been before.”
Holding back the tears, Kay stated, “I’ll live with a broken heart until the day that Jesus comes for me, and that’s ok. It’s ok to walk through life with tears in your eyes and a smile on your face at the same time.”
Pastor Warren then said, “That’s a good point; that it’s not a contradiction to be able to laugh and cry at the same time. The Bible says that there’s a ‘time to laugh’ and ‘a time to cry.’ And I do both every day. I’ve cried every single day since Matthew died.
“I don’t see that as a sign of weakness, but as a sign of love. I love my son; and I miss him very much. Now I’m not grieving for him for I know where he is. He’s in heaven. I’m grieving that I miss him. When Matthew died, this was the day that we prayed would never happen, and the day we feared might since he struggled with mental illness since a little boy. He struggled with depression and so many things for so long and we would go to doctor after doctor, and our hearts go out to people who have family members who struggle with mental illness.”
He added, “I really am a different person. I feel people’s pain much more deeply. I always knew it was hurtful and I cared about people in pain. But I tear-up with people in pain pretty easily now because I don’t just sympathize, I empathize with them.”
So, if you too have suffered the loss of a loved one to suicide, and are able to travel to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, please join with others who have also lost someone to suicide, and, by doing so, you can bear each other’s burdens.
Photo captions: 1) Matthew and Rick Warren. 2) Kay and Rick Warren. 3) Rick Warren with Dan Wooding at the NRB in Nashville days before Matthew took his life.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California.
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