Thursday, June 2, 2011

The S Word

Our love story was very unique.

Chris and I fell in love very quickly…after only about 2 months actually (he would tell you a few weeks for him…sweet man). We married 11 months after we started dating, and this August would have marked our 3rd wedding anniversary.

You can ask anybody that knows me well (and even some that don’t know me that well), God had not only blessed our marriage, but He blessed the type of love we had for each other. We were crazy about each other, and our love never weakened after getting married…it actually grew stronger. We couldn’t stand to be apart for very long, and we acted like a bunch of lovesick teenagers most of the time. We never had a single argument, and I can count on one hand the number of times we had what I would classify as a “disagreement”. It almost always seemed to be about time. Chris couldn’t tell time very well. Ha! Ha!

I know he loved me. He told me…all the time. He sent me a love email every morning and love texts throughout the day. He told everybody how much he loved me, and I know I was blessed beyond belief to have somebody love me like that. And…even more…to be given a second chance at such an amazing love after such a heartbreaking divorce many years ago. God truly redeemed the years the locusts had eaten in my marriage to Chris.

So, how could a man that loves me that much end his own life? Yes…he committed the S word. Suicide.

Many have asked how my husband died, and many of you already know. But, I honestly had to write this post not to answer the question, but simply…for me. Every word I write is part of the healing process it seems.

But, the answer to the question of “why” will never be fully understood this side of heaven. There was no note. There was no obvious reason. But, in talking with professionals, and in putting together some pieces of the puzzle with a little hindsight (only about 3-4 days worth of hindsight actually)…it appears to have been mental illness. It appears that Chris may have been mentally sick, and it may have even been his first “episode”. It’s possible he had no idea what was happening to him. But these things I do know…

Chris was a believer!

Chris was cleansed of all sin through the blood of Jesus!

Chris loved God!

Chris loved God’s word!

Chris is now completely healed in heaven!

While I can type these words, and while I know them to be true…it has been a difficult road to walk. Within minutes of my receiving this tragic and life-altering news, Satan was already working on me. With thoughts like…

Leah, how could you have let him do this?

Leah, you could have stopped this.

Leah, you are not worthy of love like this.

Leah, you always fail at marriage.

Leah, you’re alone again.

Leah, you are nothing.

Leah, God can never use you now. This is shaming to Him.

My mind was going crazy with these stupid thoughts. And, I actually remember uttering some of them out loud, because I also remember my friend, Lorie, looking me in the eye (while I was still in a state of shock) and boldly reminding me these were all lies of the enemy.

In the 4 weeks that have followed Chris’ death, God has also been reminding me of a few things. Interestingly, these were the same words that I shared with a precious group of women in Kentucky just a few months ago…

Daughter, remember I am the only One that determines your worth. Your circumstances do not determine your worth. Your family does not determine your worth. Your friends do not determine your worth. I made you…you are Mine…and I love you! And…My love is complete!

My earthly love affair with Chris may have ended abruptly because of the S word, but my love affair with Christ is only heating up more and more intensely. And…He calls me worthy.

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  1. Leah, now I want to give you that hug at SheSpeaks even more! I love this "Every word I write is part of the healing process it seems."
    Still praying for you and so thankful that your friend, Lorie, spoke truth to you!

  2. Christy Bower says:

    Leah, thank you for sharing this deeply painful part of your story. I pray that you will find healing from sharing this pain publicly by allowing others to enter into your pain with you. God is faithful to heal your heart. And I will continue to pray that God will protect you from the lies of the Devil during this vulnerable phase of your journey.

  3. Leah, I know it took courage and God's guidance to write about this so soon. Still thinking of you often and keeping you in my prayers.

  4. Mining for Diamonds says:

    Oh, sweet Leah. I am so very, very sorry. I am very…sigh VERY…well acquainted with mental illness. I will pray. And I will look for you at She Speaks and give you a hug.

  5. Melanie says:


  6. wow…this took alot for you to share today! I am one of those who was wondering, but didn't want to ask you. Thank you for being so honest, transparent, and "raw". You need to be. There are those out there who may need your strength and truth.
    Oh dear sister…I can't imagine what you are going through, but am praying for you and send you every ounce of my love!! Fight the good fight and don't give in to those lies!!

  7. pinkdaisyjane says:

    I am so proud of you. We have been praying protection on your mind and a truth filter for your thoughts since the day I heard.

    We'll keep praying.


  8. Thank you Leah for sharing this time with us and for your faithfulness to the Lord. Keeping you in my prayers and standing with you my friend. Thankful for Lorie too!
    Sending you hugs! Love you much!

  9. Caroline says:

    I can't imagine how hard this was for you to write. But thank you for sharing your heart. We have been sincerely praying for you. I'll be in that line of folks waiting to give you a hug at SheSpeaks.

  10. And God is using you- at least in part ot reflect His goodness and the strength and courage that could come only from Him. God bless you for your openness.

  11. Leslie Nease says:

    ((hugs)) to you Leah for being so transparent and shining Light on something the enemy would have loved to keep in darkness. You are precious and prayed for and I'm so very, very proud of you for being so open. You have no idea how many lives you will touch by your words and your faith! May God bless you and give you peace today!

  12. Natalie says:

    I am so very sorry. I lost my husband to suicide 5 years ago and I remember so well all the questions, the guilt, the shame…I'm glad God is affirming His great love to you. I'm here if you need someone whose walked a similar path to talk with. I will be at SheSpeaks and you can contact me through my blot at Praying for you sister!

  13. Wow, you're amazing, Leah. I'm so grateful you've chosen to share your story. What a blessing it is for so many.

  14. grace aprea-johnson says:

    Hello Leah…Im Grace…i too am a widow…i detest that word. Its almost five years now. My wonderful Travis and I were married 34 yrs and then leukemia ended that. God has rescued me from so many horrors since then, but I feel I am stuck and marinating in misery as I labeled it. Makes me laugh to say it. I know God continues to work in my life toward my new purpose…and I know I need to help Him help me. I am sorry for your loss and pain…and happy for your new joy. Your words are so helpful and encouraging…thank you. I will keep you in my prayers for God to bless you and yours abundantly…with peace, joy, and love…Grace

    • Leah Stirewalt says:

      Hi Grace!

      Welcome to Out of Deep Waters…my electronic “oasis”. I’m so glad God led you here, but I’m sorry that the common bond we share is the “W” word – widowhood. I’m so sorry you lost Travis to leukemia. While losing a husband is difficult in any situation, I can’t imagine to something like cancer. “Marinating in misery” – I like it the catchy term! I’m just sorry you’re in that place. I will tell you, however, that the best way to get to the light is to plunge right through the darkness. So, as long as you don’t camp out there too long – it might just be a place that will propel you to complete healing from the loss and pain! Thank you for your prayers, and please know I’ve already begun lifting your name up to our Father as well!


  15. Charlene Tippens says:

    Hi Leah,

    I’ve been so encouraged with a New Season ministry and had shared some of the articles on Facebook.
    My dear friend Stacy Neal shared with me that you had written for the ministry, so I searched you out.

    Are you still active with this ministry? I’m considering one of their retreats if they do one again! Would love to meet you.

    The Neal’s and my husband and I were super close and very active in our church together. Miss those precious times with them as a couple. My love committed suicide in March of 2014. Shocked a lot of people. But I think I was the most shocked.

    Your scripture is going to become mine. Thank you for sharing your life and heartache with others. It truly does ministry to others.

    • Leah Stirewalt says:

      Hi Charlene!

      Thanks so much for reaching out to me! I’m so thankful to see the aNew Season Ministries has been such a blessing to you. I actually resigned from the ministry at the beginning of the summer, because I’m in a “new season” of adoption right now and need to focus on the sibling group of THREE we’ll be bringing home before the end of the year. I still love and support the ministry and will write guest blogs as time permits. I participated in the first retreat we held last year in Myrtle Beach, and I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from the participants. I highly recommend it!!!

      Erika Graham is also on the aNS writing team and lost her husband to suicide (the year before I lost Chris actually). We’ve connected with several other women, through the ministry, who have experienced the same thing. When I first became a “suicide widow”…I thought I was all alone and felt such shame, but I’ve come to realize it’s sadly more prevalent than I ever realized.

      I’m so sorry you’re part of that same “club” of women. I know that heartache all too well!

      Please feel free to contact me anytime:

      I love Bart and Stacy!!!

      In His Grip,


  16. grace aprea-johnson says:

    Yep…it certainly does…

  17. Leah Stirewalt says:



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