At a memorial service for Jarrid Wilson on September 24th, his widow, Juli Wilson, shared that God has given her a deep sense of peace in the midst of the pain and confusion of her husband’s death. She described Jarrid’s love for people and called on the church to carry on his legacy of giving hope to the hopeless.
“He wanted to…remove the stigma around [mental health struggles],” said Juli. “He wanted people to know that when they go to Google ‘painless ways to commit suicide,’ that the church is going to be the first thing that pops up. He wanted people to find hope that outlasts this life, and he wanted them to find that eternal joy in Christ, even when their mind was telling them their lives didn’t matter. And he fought until the very last day to do that.”
Juli Wilson Celebrates Her Husband’s Life
Juli and Jarrid met seven years ago right after Juli had decided to focus on her relationship with God and not date anyone. He pursued her, despite her resistance, and convinced her to meet up with him when he happened to be speaking in Memphis, where she lived. She said that after spending time talking with him, she “quickly realized that this was someone I wanted to have in my life for the long run.”
“We made things happen really fast,” she said. He moved from California to Memphis a month later and they got married two months after that. Juli said she “basically eloped” and showed up to their wedding with three of her friends. That was the first time she met his family and friends, and “since then, they have taken me in as their own and it is the best family I could ever ask for.”
Juli said she was drawn to Jarrid by how much he cared about people, even if they were strangers. When she goes shopping, her tendency is to avoid the employees and to choose her clothes herself. But if a saleswoman approached, Jarrid would talk to her, get Juli 15 different outfit options, and find out everything the woman was going through. Then, said Juli, that woman would be sitting with them at church the next Sunday morning.
“I knew instantly that this guy has something about him that I need more of,” she said. “I want to be more like that, and we just came together and decided that was going to be our life mission for our whole rest of our lives.”
Carrying on Jarrid’s Legacy
“As amazing and outgoing as he was, as loving, as friendly, as open, and as much as he would give you the shirt off his back, he wanted everyone to know…that he struggled very badly with depression and anxiety, ” said Juli, sharing that Jarrid told her about his mental health challenges on their first date. And while it might seem like death won, the reality is that “God won that battle.”
The first time Jarrid remembers struggling with suicidal ideation, he was 18 years old and was sitting in his car, looking up “painless ways to commit suicide.” That was about 12 years ago, said Juli, noting that it’s easy to think this struggle got the best of him and that the rest of his life has been wasted. “But,” she said, “I am thanking God today for the 12 years in that gap, from the first lie that Satan planted in his ear until this last week or two weeks, however long it’s been. God did so much in 12 years…and we’re going to celebrate that.”
She said that during the last conversation she had with her husband, he mentioned the next day was World Suicide Prevention Day and said, “How many people are going to see these graphics and maybe think they can keep going?”
“That was his last heartbeat,” said Juli, “that’s what he cared about and that’s what he lived for, and we’re going to continue that anthem.” The call to care for the vulnerable, the needy and the hopeless is not something that Jarrid came up with, but something that God has called each of us to follow: “I’m not retreating. It’s time to jump in. It’s time for the church to get serious about mental health.”
She invited everyone listening to honor Jarrid’s legacy by joining her in making “our church home, our lives, everywhere we go, a little bit safer for people” to talk about their mental health challenges. She said, “I fully believe that God is on the move in the midst of this” and emphasized that the end of our story is hopeful, so “it’s time to go and reach out to a world that is feeling like there is no hope.”
Juli also shared that, despite the devastation of her husband’s death, she is encouraged knowing he is in a better place: “I was the closest person to him on earth, and I’m telling you, I have peace, and it’s possible, it’s there and available for you. Cling to the feet of Jesus. Ask Him for that hope, that peace, and He will give it to you in abundance.”