The widow of pastor Andrew Stoecklein, Kayla, has penned another tremendously heartbreaking letter about the loss of her husband to suicide after delivering an emotional address at his funeral Saturday.
“Thank you. The amount of support our family our family has received has blown us away,” Kayla said at Andrew’s memorial service.
After giving a loving introduction to her husband, who committed suicide after a battle with depression and anxiety, she noted that there was one significant tattoo that Andrew wanted to get done, but that he never had the chance to. So, she got it herself.
Kayla explained: “It was his life verse, from 2 Kings 22:2 — he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David [Stoecklein], not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
“Although Andrew left this world way too soon, I believe that he truly lived that verse,” she said. “Andrew served the Lord fearlessly, just like his father David did.”
David Stoecklein, the founding pastor of Inland Hills Church, passed away from cancer on Oct. 9, 2015, aged 55.
“I am eternally grateful to have known and loved such an incredible man,” Kayla continued. “The loss is great, the questions are countless, and the depth of the pain is unbearable. But our family is still choosing to believe that in the midst of the tragedy that God’s got this.”
“I believe that what happened two weeks ago absolutely broke God’s heart,” she said. “We didn’t get the miracle we were hoping for, and I don’t understand why this was filtered through God’s hands.”
Despite the pain, Kayla said that she is “still choosing to put my hope and trust in Him.”
“The presence has been so thick the past few weeks,” she shared. “He is near and he cares.”
Stoecklein also noted that many have been touched by Andrew’s story, and declared that some incredible things have been occurring since his death.
“Because of Andrew’s story, people who were once planning on taking their own life have changed their minds. Because of his story, pastors and leaders have been able to open up about their depression and anxiety,” Kayla explained.
“If you are struggling, tell somebody. The enemy wants you to feel isolated, unloved and worthless. I’m here to tell you that you are loved and valued more than you will ever know,” she said.
Following the emotional memorial service, Kayla reflected on her emotions after saying a final farewell to her husband.
“Seeing the casket and knowing that your body was inside shattered my heart. How could this be possible? How could my Andrew who was full of life and potential be gone? How could the father of my children now be lifeless in a casket? I don’t know how this happened and it happened so quickly,” Kayla wrote in a blog post Sunday.
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This picture is from our last summer together. Even though he was on a sabbatical it was an extremely difficult summer. We couldn’t seem to catch a break. I had fractured my arm and I was feeling down. So we sat in our chairs and Andrew was reminding me as he always did, God’s Got This. • Today I woke up processing everything that’s happened these last few days. My therapy continues to be words, so I wrote another letter to My Andrew. (Link in Bio) #godsgotthis
Austin Stoecklein, Andrew’s brother, also talked about his “best friend” and the role model his brother was to him. When their father passed away, Austin said that he could always go to his brother with “the big questions.”
“I leaned on him a lot,” he added.
Austin also talked about his brother’s legacy, and how he prayed that people would speak of Andrew as a wonderful leader, father and husband who spent his life working for the Kingdom of God.
“Andrew’s legacy is not how he died, it is how he lived,” Austin boldly declared.
In her remarks, Andrew’s mom, Carol, said that her son’s illness and death were “so sudden,” and that the entire family was “frustrated” they couldn’t figure it out quicker.
“We truly are brokenhearted. It is just so unbelievable. This mental illness was so sudden. We did not have time to figure it out,” Carol continued, adding that the whole situation was just “so excruciating and so permanent.”
Kayla continued to lament her devastating loss in her letter, telling her husband how difficult it is to move forward without him.
“The pain I am experiencing now in the aftermath is heavy. It feels as if I am walking through mud, carrying around massive weights on my feet. I have to keep moving but each step is excruciating. One foot in front of the other, one breath, one minute, one day at a time, that’s what they tell me. I feel numb all over, and I am so afraid of my future. I could have predicted what the next 20 years would have looked like with you, and now I don’t even know what the next 2 weeks will hold.
Tomorrow is national suicide prevention day. I still can’t believe that I lost you, the man I madly love to suicide. How am I a survivor of suicide? Never would I ever have predicted this to be my life. It all happened so fast. You were just diagnosed in April with Depression and in August you are gone? We didn’t have enough time!
I wish we had more time,
I wish we could figure it out together,
I wish we could sit with the doctors one more time.
I think back and I feel strongly that we really tried hard.
We went to counseling together every week.
You sat with the psychiatrist every other week.
You went on solo trips by yourself to spend time with God.
You flew to Colorado to spend a week with one of the wisest couples we know.
We spent two weeks together, just the two of us away from the chaos and the kids.
You were diagnosed on the “low end” of the spectrum.
How did this happen?”
Please pray for the Stoecklein family as they continue to mourn the loss of Pastor Stoecklein.