It’s been over a week now since Pastor Andrew Stoecklein died by suicide. Whether people knew this pastor or had heard him preach prior to this sad news, now his name has become widely circulated in the American church. So has the name of his wife, Kayla, who is left trying to pick up the pieces of a life that was meant to be led by two.
“I truly didn’t understand the depths of your depression and anxiety. I didn’t understand how real and how relentless the spiritual attacks were,” Kayla writes. She has posted a few updates on her Instagram account and the site the Stoecklein family launched as they faced the death of their patriarch, Pastor Dave Stoecklein (Andrew’s late father).
Kayla’s updates are heartbreaking. She has written letters to her late husband expressing her grief and the responsibility she feels for not understanding what he was facing in the months leading up to his death. She also talks about the crippling task of telling her three boys that their father is not coming home and why.
Struggling to Understand Why Andrew Stoecklein Took His Life
The updates give us a window into the reality of a person left after a loved one decides they can’t take one more moment of life. Kayla wrestles with shock and struggles to see the good, even in this. A death by suicide leaves so many questions: What could we have done to help this man? Why didn’t we notice how much pain he was in? Why did we leave him alone?
Kayla puts it this way:
Andrew I want to tell you from the depths of my heart and my pain I am so sorry.
I am so sorry you were so scared,
I am so sorry you felt so alone,
I am so sorry you felt misunderstood,
I am so sorry you felt betrayed and deeply hurt by the words and actions of others,
I am so sorry you were fighting a dark spiritual war virtually alone,
I am so sorry you were unable to fully get the help and support you needed.
I’m sure anyone who knew Stoecklein personally feels the same way.
If you can get through Kayla’s letters to Andrew without crying too much, you will come to a hope she has settled on—a miracle she is praying for. She writes about people who are reaching out to her, telling her that Stoecklein’s story has actually helped them.
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.
Andrew Stoecklein’s Legacy Is Alive
The miracle Kayla is praying for is that God will “turn the greatest tragedy in my life into triumph.” She is hoping against hope that God will do what he alone can do.