Tomorrow will be 12 years.

Christopher heard the call and was loyal and committed to the purpose and destiny he heard all of his life. Yet, the mixture of his zealous personality (do it right or don’t do it at all), and the certainty of purpose and assurance of destiny, fought with his tender heart.

With the tendency of feeling disqualified, it became too much.

I’ve been writing here for awhile now, with the purpose of being a small but steady light telling of God’s care during tragedy. I have not written solely about suicide, but the heartache of suffering in all its shapes and sizes.

I cannot speak to every heartache, but I do know the One who can.

I’m just a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. And when you are hurting, you are begging for answers.

But we don’t always get answers, do we?

Some say, how could a God of love allow pain? I say isn’t it amazing how a God of love will comfort us in the pain.

It’s always been easy for me to see the big picture and not get lost in the details. That said, I have often found strength learning of the suffering which has come to mankind since the beginning of time.

There is a bigger picture. One that is difficult if not impossible for humanity to grasp. Try as we may, though, we form intellectual opinions based on what we see or understand, not realizing (or accepting) that just as the immensity of the universe cannot be understood in our finite minds, we will not understand why we suffer.

God’s ways are not ours. And in this I find comfort. Because it tells me someone is in charge of all this.

He has the answers.

The Bible speaks of the great cloud of witnesses” who surround us – those who spur us on to continue with perseverance  the path marked out for us. Men and women who faced intense adversity: ” … they were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated …”

We can continue with world history and current events which reveal so much pain and suffering, along with many, many who have endured and persevered, because they have grabbed hold of something bigger than themselves.

I do not want to minimize pain by sounding trivial in the conclusions I have come to.  But even in my worst first moments of receiving the news, suffocating and pulling me down into an abyss of hopelessness and despair, I found a brief moment to catch my breath and see the big picture of human suffering. Looking back, this was God pulling back the curtain to show me a truth that would help sustain me.

I was not alone. Countless others have faced this and more. God wasn’t picking on just me. He wasn’t punishing me. He wasn’t rejecting me.

Pain will isolate us, particularly from God. It, like death, is an enemy. An enemy that God will deal with one day when he wipes away every tear and there will be no more sorrow or death.

This is truth.

The truth sets us free from the limitations of how we see things.

And so we wait.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? 



Christopher Moulton

November 30, 1981 – September 26, 2005

the lesser of two evils.

the lesser of two evils.

The following is an excerpt from Questions Asked by Teens About Suicide & Ideas for Appropriate Responses:

What is an appropriate memorial to a suicide victim?

“The most appropriate memorial is a living one such as contributions to support suicide prevention. The American Association of Suicidology cautions that permanent markers or memorials such as plaques or trees planted in memory of the deceased dramatize and glorify their actions. Special pages in yearbooks or or school activities dedicated to the suicide victim are also not recommended.”

I completely understand the concern here. Anyone who is vulnerable may take their life, too. It’s called “copy cat suicide”.

Yet, I think it’s important to allow people to grieve in a way that helps. Especially teenagers. They are still here and the memory of their friend or classmate will be with them forever.

Additionally, the family of the one who took their life is already suffering. To take this approach isolates the family and they suffer more.

I know suicide is a very, very difficult situation. Everyone is hurting.

I also know allowing people to grieve through remembering the one who died is important.

We try to control what we don’t understand. Sometimes, we make it worse.

Which is the lesser of two evils: another suicide or the remaining loved ones feeling isolated and shunned? Does one person have more value than the other?

I see nothing wrong with a yearbook page or plaque. It’s a simple gesture to remember a valuable life.  Without allowing something tangible to remember, it makes that life unimportant.

People who took their life were either hurting and unable to see beyond the moment and/or there was a physical imbalance creating mental illness.

How can we not have compassion for that? It is not compassionate to try and sweep it under the rug. And that is what it is when you deny someone the ability to create a memorial.

grieving the death of a child.

grieving the death of a child.

Rick and Kay Warren lost their son to suicide last year.

The following is a recent Facebook post from Kay.

I am adding it to my blog because I believe it will help so many who have lost a child. Many of us are “lost” with how our culture deals with grief. Her comments are strikingly similar to all grieving parents.

Please understand – the tone of her comments, along with how many grieving parents feel, is not bitterness.

It’s to help us understand grief, but especially with the death of a child.

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.” The soft, compassionate cocoon that has enveloped us for the last 11 1/2 months had lulled me into believing others would be patient with us on our grief journey, and while I’m sure many will read this and quickly say “Take all the time you need,” I’m increasingly aware that the cocoon may be in the process of collapsing. It’s understandable when you take a step back. I mean, life goes on. The thousands who supported us in the aftermath of Matthew’s suicide wept and mourned with us, prayed passionately for us, and sent an unbelievable volume of cards, letters, emails, texts, phone calls, and gifts. The support was utterly amazing. But for most, life never stopped – their world didn’t grind to a horrific, catastrophic halt on April 5, 2013. In fact, their lives have kept moving steadily forward with tasks, routines, work, kids, leisure, plans, dreams, goals etc. LIFE GOES ON. And some of them are ready for us to go on too. They want the old Rick and Kay back. They secretly wonder when things will get back to normal for us – when we’ll be ourselves, when the tragedy of April 5, 2013 will cease to be the grid that we pass everything across. And I have to tell you – the old Rick and Kay are gone. They’re never coming back. 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.

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. “At least you can have another child” one mother was told shortly after her child’s death. “You’re doing better, right?” I was asked recently. “When are you coming back to the stage at Saddleback? We need you” someone cluelessly said to me recently. “People can be so rude and insensitive; they make the most thoughtless comments,” one grieving father said. You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that it was standard in our culture for people to officially be in mourning for a full year. They wore black. They didn’t go to parties. They didn’t smile a whole lot. And everybody accepted their period of mourning; no one ridiculed a mother in black or asked her stupid questions about why she was STILL so sad. Obviously, this is no longer accepted practice; mourners are encouraged to quickly move on, turn the corner, get back to work, think of the positive, be grateful for what is left, have another baby, and other unkind, unfeeling, obtuse and downright cruel comments. What does this say about us – other than we’re terribly uncomfortable with death, with grief, with mourning, with loss – or we’re so self-absorbed that we easily forget the profound suffering the loss of a child creates in the shattered parents and remaining children.

Unless you’ve stood by the grave of your child or cradled the urn that holds their ashes, you’re better off keeping your words to some very simple phrases: “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Or “I’m praying for you and your family.” Do your best to avoid the meaningless, catch-all phrase “How are you doing?” This question is almost impossible to answer. If you’re a stranger, it’s none of your business. If you’re a casual acquaintance, it’s excruciating to try to answer honestly, and you leave the sufferer unsure whether to lie to you (I’m ok) to end the conversation or if they should try to haltingly tell you that their right arm was cut off and they don’t know how to go on without it. If you’re a close friend, try telling them instead, “You don’t have to say anything at all; I’m with you in this.”

None of us wants to be like Job’s friends – the pseudo comforters who drove him mad with their questions, their wrong conclusions and their assumptions about his grief. But too often we end up a 21st century Bildad, Eliphaz or Zophar – we fill the uncomfortable silence with words that wound rather than heal. I’m sad to realize that even now – in the middle of my own shattering loss – I can be callous with the grief of another and rush through the conversation without really listening, blithely spouting the platitudes I hate when offered to me. We’re not good grievers, and when I judge you, I judge myself as well.

Here’s my plea: Please don’t ever tell someone to be grateful for what they have left until they’ve had a chance to mourn what they’ve lost. It will take longer than you think is reasonable, rational or even right. But that’s ok. True friends – unlike Job’s sorry excuse for friends – love at all times, and brothers and sisters are born to help in time of need (Prov. 17:17 LB).The truest friends and “helpers” are those who wait for the griever to emerge from the darkness that swallowed them alive without growing afraid, anxious or impatient. They don’t pressure their friend to be the old familiar person they’re used to; they’re willing to accept that things are different, embrace the now-scarred one they love, and are confident that their compassionate, non-demanding presence is the surest expression of God’s mercy to their suffering friend. They’re ok with messy and slow and few answers….and they never say “Move on.”

Kay Warren



I’ve often heard it said, prayer changes things.

What I have found is, it changes the one praying.

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, lost his son last April to suicide. His son struggled with mental illness.

rick w

I like Rick Warren.  If evangelicals, non-denominational, charismatic, or whatever-you-identify-yourself-with dusted off the hymnals and pews of our predecessors, Warren dusted off the tendency for any of us to get boxed in with our faith.  He didn’t compromise God’s holiness by bringing him down to our level, but Warren helped us get focused on practical application and what Jesus said that looks like. I don’t know about you, but pride sneaks up on me.

Warren appeared for the first time in his church last Sunday. He said this:

“For 27 years, I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son’s mental illness. It was the number one prayer of my life and it didn’t make sense. What was happening didn’t make sense. We had the best doctors. We had the best medicine. We went to the best therapist. We had the most people praying. We have a family of deep, deep faith. It just didn’t make sense.”

It just didn’t make sense.

I lost my oldest son to suicide in September, 2005. I was a “prayer warrior” and had deep, deep faith. I cut my Christian teeth on having mountain removing faith.

But one fall afternoon, I found myself under that mountain.  No one had prepared me. Actually, no one really helped me, either.

It just didn’t make sense.

Doesn’t the effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous man accomplish much? Was I not righteous enough?

The fact that we would say “it didn’t make sense”, tells me we are trusting in what we thought we know to be true.

Is prayer necessary? Yes. And Jesus told us how to pray.

But somewhere along the way we picked up some extra ideas and we implemented them to the model prayer. I suspect that is wrong.

Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This … is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”

Your will be done.

If we get stuck on “it didn’t make any sense”,  I think we are grappling with our human good intentions … thinking we were right.

For Christians, the committed and devoted to our faith, aware of God leading and guiding His church, we have to humble ourselves and recognize that he indeed is doing that. It might mean .. no, it will mean .. letting go of some things we have been doing incorrectly.

I have since learned that the greatest faith isn’t “it didn’t happen” … but that “it did” … and I still love God.


Photo credit:



It’s one thing if someone dies in a war, an accident, or from a disease.

It’s another thing if someone you love dies from suicide.

You think people understand but you soon find out they do not.

The closest people to you can be talking behind your back about the one you lost and you don’t know it until the tell-tale signs begin to appear.

And then you think, “Oh. They are talking about it.”

And the one who is gone is being pulled apart and analyzed.

But the worst one is, “I thought so.” How dare you?

I’m so thankful God knows everything. He is my Defender. And his.

I know that now.


You should know it, too.

How I love you, Lord! You are my defender.  The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with him I am safe. He protects me like a shield; he defends me and keeps me safe.

The Bible  (Psalm 18)


Photo Courtesy: VinothChandar / / CC BY