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Piers Morgan Live

Interview with Rick and Kay Warren

Aired September 17, 2013 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Pastor Rick Warren, his prayer in the wake of America's latest mass shooting.


RICK WARREN: The first thing I did is get down on my knees and pray for those families of the victims, those who died and those who are wounded. And my heart went out to them.


MORGAN: It's an issue that touches him deeply. His youngest son, 27-year-old Matthew, shot himself to death, losing a life-long battle with mental illness.


RICK WARREN: There is no way a gun should ever get in the hands of a mentally ill person.


MORGAN: Tonight, he tells me how the loss of his son tested his faith and how he put his family back together and returns to his church.


RICK WARREN: I was overwhelmed by the love of our people.


MORGAN: How he and his wife handled the haters who attacked them.


KAY WARREN: I was absolutely horrified. I mean it was so stupid. I just want to like punch the computer


MORGAN: Rick Warren and his wife Kay, speaking out for the first time since their family tragedy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK WARREN: We stood in the driveway, just embracing each other, sobbing.


MORGAN: This is Piers Morgan, Live.

Here with me now is Pastor Rick Warren, the founder of Saddleback Church and his wife Kay, the co-founder of the church. This is their first interview since the tragic suicide of their son Matthew back in April.

Welcome to both of you.

RICK WARREN: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: My deepest, sincerest condolences ...

RICK WARREN: Thank you.

MORGAN: ... on this awful loss to you and your family.

I remember that day. I remember seeing the news breaking. Obviously, you're very famous, Rick, and it flew around the internet, around the world. And I felt a huge sense of sadness for you, having interviewed you a few times. I can only begin to imagine what it was like for you two.

How have you been coping?

RICK WARREN: Well, you know, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross did this thing, this thing called the four stages of death and I actually -- of dying. I actually think there are six. And we've been watching ourselves go through this back and forth now for several months.

I think the first stage is shock. And for us, shock still happens. But, for at least the first month, is I kept waiting for Matthew to come in the door. Go, "When's my son going to walk in?" I just couldn't believe that it happened. It was so sudden. And then you move from shock to sorrow, sadness, and this profound sadness that comes in your life. Then you move to what I call struggle and that's all the why questions. Why now, why this, why me, why Matthew, and all that struggle.

Then you move to a stage I call surrender. I wrote in my journal one day, I later tweeted it, and said, "I'd rather have all my questions unanswered and walk with God than not walk with God and have all my questions answered." But there is a struggle. And finally, I just have to surrender, so I'm not going to know. I'm not going to know all these answers.

And then you move to what I call sanctification which is the change that takes place in you. And then service. And service means I think God wants us to use our hurt. And one of the reasons we decided to do this interview with you is maybe we could help some other people.

MORGAN: Yeah, I feel very honored that you asked me to do this interview. You're a mother of three children. It's the worst thing in the world. I have four kids. It's the thing you dread most is losing one of your kids. How have you been coping with this?

KAY WARREN: You know, I've said almost from the first moment that we learned that, "We're devastated but we're not destroyed." And when people ask that question of how are you, I -- there's no good answer.


KAY WARREN: And so, I finally just settled on, "I'm terrible but I'm OK." In other words, we're going to survive, we're going to survive, and someday, we'll thrive again. It's -- it is, it's the worst thing that could ever happen.

RICK WARREN: I have cried every single day since Matthew died, but that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It's the way we get to the transitions of life. And I find, if I don't cry, then you stuff it.

I was saying, when I swallow my emotions, my stomach keeps score. If I don't talk it out to my wife, to God, to friends. then I'm going to take it out off my body. And so, as guys, men, we don't do grief very well. It's not an easy thing for us because we don't like the negative emotion.

But actually, grief is a good thing. Grief is the way we get to the transitions of life and that's been helpful to me.

MORGAN: On the morning that Matthew died, you both had this strange sense of foreboding. You've been with him the night before.


MORGAN: He was a troubled boy, and we're going to come to the mental health issues he battled his entire life. Tell me about why you both felt the sense of foreboding, starting with you, Rick.

RICK WARREN: Well, it's -- I had actually been going through a whole week where I was doing what I call the battle for hope. The previous Sunday was Easter, that's the biggest day of the year for Saddleback. We had 50,000 people there, had reached 14 times, and they did a message on why you need hope.

And each day of that week, I had a battle of hope. On Monday, we announced that I was starting a national radio program called "Daily Hope". On Tuesday, I announced that I was going to write the first book since "Purpose Driven Life". It's going to be a four-month sabbatical and it's going to be called, "The Hope You Need".

On Wednesday, I announced that there is going to be a new series starting that weekend called, "Struggling through Your Worst Days". In fact that weekend, I had planned a message. I ended up having Tom preach it, called, "What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life", not even knowing that would be the worst day of my life. And on the radio program that was airing nationally, it was a week old, that day, the message was called, "Winning the Battle for Your Mind".

Now, the irony of that with a son who lost hope, took his life, and had struggled for 27 years with his battle in his mind for mental illness, tender heart, but a tortured mind, we just had the sense of (inaudible) that day.

MORGAN: Kay, how had he been the night before?

KAY WARREN: You know, he was -- it was actually one of the best weeks he's had in the long time.

RICK WARREN: It had been.

KAY WARREN: So we weren't surprised that Matthew took his life because he had been struggling with suicidal ideation for quite a while. But we were surprised it was that day because he'd had this good week. He started a new job. He had a date lined up for Sunday.

RICK WARREN: And date line, yes.

KAY WARREN: When he left the house that night, he had a bag, a new towel that he just got. And he was telling me how the next day he was going to upgrade his phone to an iPhone 5. He had this other girl that he was going to go by a fast food store because he thought she was making eyes at him, he was going to ask her.

So he had all these things but he laid his head down on the kitchen table. I made him dinner, laid his head down in the kitchen table and he just said, "I'm so tired." He just said, "I'm so tired." And he had been asked to be a part of this kind of offline chatroom thing that he was very excited about. But he said, you know, the pressure of, "I want people to like me." But if they do there's the, "Can I maintain it," and there's so much pressure.

But he left OK. I walked him out to his car. I helped him carry stuff, gave him a hug. Rick hugged him before he left.


KAY WARREN: And when I got his phone back ...

RICK WARREN: No sense of conflict.

KAY WARREN: Well, yes. I mean he was tired. But when we got his phone back from the police, I checked, and at 9:45 p.m. he was texting for the girl he's going to have a date with. So he was excited. Nine minutes later, he texted me and said, "I feel like it's all spiraling out of control and I'm going to take my life." And in nine minutes, he went ...

RICK WARREN: It was like a switch.

KAY WARREN: Yes. He went -- so I was in a texting conversation with him. Then, for the next hour, trying to talk him, you know, off that ledge, talking into it. So I knew he was desperate. And I also knew he -- I knew he had a gun. And so, I knew that there was -- that he had the lethal mean ...

RICK WARREN: Yeah, the means. Yeah.

KAY WARREN: So not only was he impulsively -- he was in despair. But I knew he can do something about it.

MORGAN: And how did you know he had a gun?

KAY WARREN: He had told me.

RICK WARREN: He told us.

KAY WARREN: He told us everything.

MORGAN: I'm going to come to that idea ...


MORGAN: ... because he bought the gun online ...


RICK WARREN: Illegally.

MORGAN: ... illegally.


MORGAN: And we'll come to that.

KAY WARREN: But I knew that ...

MORGAN: But you knew that he had a suicidal ...

KAY WARREN: I knew. And then he stopped to text and he was getting more and more agitated. Nothing I was saying was, you know, making any difference. I wasn't able to calm him down. And he just stopped. And that is ...

RICK WARREN: Because we had talked him off the edge hundreds of times.

KAY WARREN: Yeah. And I just knew. I knew. And so I made Rick -- Rick was very ill and I made him get out of bed and we drove over to Matthew's house.

RICK WARREN: That night.

KAY WARREN: Lights were -- I could see in his window, lights were on. And I started ringing the doorbell, banging on the door. Now, typically, he would have said, "Go away", or come to the door, invite me in. He did nothing. That was not his pattern. And so, I had a pretty good sense that perhaps something catastrophic could happen.

MORGAN: And what time was this?

KAY WARREN: That was late on Thursday, April 4th. And so, I was pretty sure that something had happened. But he had also told us that if we call the police that he would take his life instantly. So a call to the police was an instant suicide. So I was living with that horrible, horrible choice of do I call the police and perhaps intervene or do I take that risk of that call that he instantly killed himself.

So we just had to wait for few hours. And so, it was into the next day that I felt that he was not responding. And finally, when I sent the text saying, "Look, I'm calling the police if you don't -- just give me one word that tells me you're OK. One word and I won't call the police."

RICK WARREN: We'll call 911 or whatever.

KAY WARREN: And there was nothing. And so, we went back to the house. His house looked exactly the same, same lights were on. We knew. By that time, we knew.

MORGAN: When you got back to the house in the morning, you had this awful sense that he had probably taken his life, you couldn't get inside the house ...


MORGAN: ... call the police, you were waiting.


MORGAN: That moment, to the both of you, must have been beyond horror.

RICK WARREN: We were sobbing. We were just sobbing. The day that I had feared might happen, one day, since he'd been born, and the day that I prayed would never happen, happened. And I remember, as we stood in the driveway, just embracing each other, and sobbing. And Kay was wearing a necklace -- you're wearing it today -- that had the words of a book she wrote a year ago called "Choose Joy".

And she held it up and it said, "Choose Joy." And in my thought I thought, "Are you kidding? How can I choose joy in this worst circumstance of my life?" But we -- even in that moment, we're trying to say, "We're not in control but we do have a greater hope and we do have a source of joy that isn't based on our circumstances." And it was a holy moment.

KAY WARREN: It was a -- but it was excruciating to just to sit there even though I knew -- by that point, I knew that he was gone. To have officer come out the door and just, you know, nod.

RICK WARREN: Say the words you never want to hear.

KAY WARREN: I hit the ground. I hit the ground.

RICK WARREN: And the things we're saying, "It's not supposed to end like this." Because we had had close calls -- Matthew had made attempts on his life before in other ways. And we just kept -- you know, when Matthew was born -- even as a young child, he struggled with mental illness. We can get into that when you want to talk about it. But -- so we knew that this day might happen someday but it's a day no parent wants. It's your worst nightmare. And I'll never forget the agony of that moment.

MORGAN: Let's take a short break. I'm going to come back and talk to you about the pulling battles that Matthew had gone through, the battles that you went through as his parents to try and prevent this happening.


KAY WARREN: Then when they brought his body out, I hugged him for all it was worth.



RICK WARREN: And when Matthew died, you know, several months back. It forced me to go deep with God than I've ever had to go in my entire life.


MORGAN: That was from Rick Warren's Saturday sermon, part of the series called, "How to get through what you're going through." Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay tuning again now, exclusively.

This is heartbreaking to listen to for anybody, the parent, anyone to go through this. You were there at his house, Matthew's house. You now know that he has done what you've always hoped he'd never do. Did you go in? Did you go and try and see him?

RICK. WARREN: I didn't want to see what the possibility was. So, I opened the door, I led the police in and I let them go into the room, and I immediately came right back out. I didn't want to ...

KAY WARREN: No, we didn't. Neither of us wanted to. We ...

RICK. WARREN: Wanted to see the scene.

KAY WARREN: You know, the pictures in our mind are terrible enough.

RICK WARREN: Were bad enough.

KAY WARREN: You know, and we were fortunate. Some people find their loved ones -- we were fortunate that we did not have to witness that. But they let us know that it was catastrophic enough that the police officer was like, you know, this -- you ... RICK WARREN: You don't want to see this.

KAY WARREN: ... won't have an (inaudible) saying you don't want to have an open casket. So, I assumed that I would never see him again. And so, then I said, "I am definitely -- I want to see -- I'm going to hug him when you bring him out." And so, they did. When they -- then when they brought his body out, I hugged him for all it was worth and the coroner tried to move me away and I was just like, "I will be done when I'm done."

RICK WARREN: "When I'm done," those were exactly the words you said.

KAY WARREN: I'm hugging my son so I'm finished. And we were really -- it was an amazing blessing to us though that they were -- we were able to use a (inaudible) and we were able to have an open casket and a viewing for those -- our family. And that was a treasure.

RICK WARREN: It was a closure for us.

KAY WARREN: It sounds weird but ...

MORGAN: No it doesn't.

KAY WARREN: ... it was a treasure to be able to see him and touch him and hold him again, so ...

MORGAN: There are more suicides annually in America now than there are from auto accidents. One every 13.7 minutes, even while we've been doing this interview, somebody else has committed suicide in America. What does that tell you?

RICK WARREN: Well it -- on a personal level, on a family level, on a government level, there'd be three different answers. On a personal level, it tells me that there are a lot of people in despair. Not all those people are mentally ill, by far, but mental illness is a -- is really, in one way, is the last taboo.

KAY WARREN: It's the leading cause.

RICK WARREN: Yeah. Piers, any other organ in my body can get broken and there's no shame, no stigma to it. My liver stops working, my heart stops working, my lungs stop working. Well, I'll just say, "Hey, I got diabetes. My pancreas or my adrenaline glands, or whatever," but if my brain is broken, I'm supposed to feel bad about it. I'm supposed to feel shame. And so, a lot of people who should get help don't.

MORGAN: Kay, Matthew, from a very early age, had suffered from depression. He was misdiagnosed with bipolar and other conditions. In the end, do you believe that he was correctly diagnosed, eventually?


MORGAN: With something called? KAY WARREN: Borderline personality disorder.

MORGAN: And what is that?

KAY WARREN: Well, borderline personality disorder is a -- it's a pervasive attachment, if you will, to mood swings, suicide ideation. It's a dysregulation of emotions with usually a lot of difficulty in interpersonal relationships. Many times, people who cut or burn themselves also have borderline personality, and it's pervasive, meaning it's just really hard to deal with. But there is hope for it.

MORGAN: It's hard to imagine. All that I've researched on this, with you and your family and Matthew, it's hard to imagine anyone who suffers from this kind of illness, who's had more love and support from their family, from a wide circle of friends, who's had more treatment from the so called experts, more institutionalized moments, everything you could imagine, and yet still it wasn't enough to save him.

KAY WARREN: Well, if you look at the risk factors of what puts people at risk for suicide, Matthew had almost none of the risk factors. He had a great, as you say, a loving family, he had the access to care, he had friends. He had everything. And yet ...

RICK WARREN: Strong social system around him.

KAY WARREN: Yeah, so the main risk factor for him was mental illness and he had that.

RICK WARREN: If love could've kept my child alive, he'd be alive today because he was incredibly loved. And he had an older sister and older brother who were fiercely protective of him. Even as a young child, when he -- the signs of mental illness came on and we could see it, the whole family rallied around and ...

KAY WARREN: He was not ostracized in any way.

RICK WARREN: Not at any way.

KAY WARREN: He was welcomed in the extended family. I mean he had all of those things that would -- should lower his risk. But we've known for years and years, a decade at least, that he was trying to take his life.

MORGAN: How many times had he actually tried?

KAY WARREN: He had actually made two other attempts that were definite attempts plus all the attempts. To attempt, he would text me and say, "I'm trying and I can't. I can't make myself do it. I'm such a wimp. I can't even succeed at this." Two actual other attempts, one, just 10 days before he actually completed.

MORGAN: Before he'd taken an overdose or something?

KAY WARREN: He had overdosed. He had -- well, I'll tell you this, he kept trying and there are Charlatans out there on the internet who prey on very vulnerable people like Matthew. He tried to buy -- he didn't want to die violently. He didn't want to die. He wanted to die in a peaceful way.

So, he tried to buy Nembutal on the internet. People took thousands of dollars from him and never gave it to him. People sold him poison that was supposedly peaceful poison. I mean he really -- he was so desperate to end the pain. That's the most important thing, that Matthew was in such excruciating emotional and physical pain and he just wanted the pain to stop.

RICK WARREN: Matthew was not afraid to die. He was afraid of pain. I remember 10 years ago, when he was 17, he came to me and sobbing. And he said, "Daddy," he said, "It's really clear. I'm not going to get any better." We've gone to the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best treatments, therapist, everything, your prayer, everything you could imagine, good support. And he says, "It's real clear. I'm not going to get any better, so why can't I just die? I know I'm going to heaven, I know I'm going to heaven so why can't I" -- he was not afraid to die.

MORGAN: And what did you say to him, Rick?

RICK WARREN: Well, in that situation, I said, "Matthew, the reason why is there is a purpose, even in our pain. And I am not willing to just give up and say that the solution isn't there. You might give up. But as your father, as your mother, we're not ever giving up that we wont' find the solution." Because I really believed Matthew could have been a great advocate for children in the world. He was an amazingly compassionate kid. He had an ability to walk into a room and he would instantly knew who was on the most pain in that room. It's like his antennae up ...

MORGAN: He could feel it.

RICK WARREN: He could feel it. He would make a bee line for that person. And the rest evening, during that party, he'd spend that entire time talking to that person, trying to cheer them up, trying to encourage them. And many times, he'd say, "Dad, I can help a lot of other people. I just can't get it to work for me." In fact, when we later looked at this so called suicide sites and found a number of people he had actually helped even in his own agony, and our -- it's the world's loss that he's not here. It's the world's loss.

MORGAN: Let's take another break. Let's come back and talk about how he killed himself, the gun that he used, and how he got that gun, because that in itself should never have happened.


RICK WARREN: We're grateful that the laws kept Matthew from getting the gun for as long as it did.




MORGAN: Pastor Rick Warren is back with me now, exclusively, along with his wife Kay. Kay, you mentioned earlier that you knew that Matthew had a gun. Where did he kept this gun? We now know that he had mental health issues his whole life.

KAY WARREN: Yeah. Well, he didn't get it legally, that's for sure. The gun laws in California are very strict and they worked. He couldn't get a gun legally and he ...

MORGAN: Had he tried to do it legally?


RICK WARREN: Oh, for a long time.

KAY WARREN: Oh yeah, he had tried.

RICK WARREN: We're grateful that the laws kept Matthew from getting the gun for as long as it did.

KAY WARREN: Yeah, but he kept trying and he was ...

MORGAN: And he wants one as far as you're aware with one purpose ...

KAY WARREN: Oh, only one purpose.

MORGAN: ... to take his life.

KAY WARREN: Now, just to -- because he knew it would end it for him and he was just so determined that he needed to ...

MORGAN: When did he finally get this gun?

KAY WARREN: A month before he took his life.

MORGAN: And do you know how he got it, who he got it from?

KAY WARREN: He told me that he -- he told me everything and he told me that he had found somebody finally on the internet who would sell it to him and it had to be super encrypted and it had to be, you know, this whole process and he begged me to help him because he couldn't figure out the process. And again, there's so many, so many moments of terrible choices with mental illness.

Here is my son, in terrible pain, begging me to help him get -- a means to end his pain. And it's like, "My son, I can't do that. I can help you live. I will do anything to help you live. I cannot help you take your life." And he finally, through great struggle, was able to figure out how to. And so, he got a gun illegally, you know, on the internet. And then he filed down the serial numbers. So we made the effort actually to try and find the person. And he had done a really good job.

RICK WARREN: He didn't want anybody else to be blamed for his choice. But I have to say, Piers, one of the hard things was forgiving the person who sold him the gun.

KAY WARREN: Absolutely. Because I prayed ...

RICK WARREN: Because I didn't want to forgive him.

KAY WARREN: Well, when you pray on a desperate person ...

RICK WARREN: Yeah, you know.

MORGAN: Do you know who that person is, Rick?

KAY WARREN: Have no idea.

RICK WARREN: No, I don't.

MORGAN: The police have never been able to find out?


KAY WARREN: Because they couldn't trace the gun so, absolutely, no idea. And it was so encrypted. And yeah, they couldn't find it.

MORGAN: And what -- and, Rick, have you been able to forgive this person?

RICK WARREN: Oh yeah. Yeah, I have to give -- forgive not for his benefit for mine. I forgive, first, because I've been forgiven by God. Second, unforgiveness makes me miserable. And third, I'm going to need more forgiveness in the future. So we don't forgive for their benefit. We actually forgive for ours.

KAY WARREN: Yeah, I don't want to be tied to that person emotionally ...


KAY WARREN: ... for the rest of my life.

RICK WARREN: He hurt me enough already. I'm not going to let him hurt me anymore.

MORGAN: The gun itself, Kay, it's such a final thing, that's what I was feeling. You know, I've campaigned a little about gun control. But one of the aspects I don't care a lot is the suicide rate through guns. In state where there are more guns, there tend to be more gun suicides. You talked very believingly, Rick, after Sandy Hook and other shootings about the gun culture in America. This is another example, but it's touched your family.


MORGAN: What can be done about this? Is there anything that can be done with that?

RICK WARREN: Yeah. Well, I think, Piers that there are multiple angles that we have to hit on this because we are in a culture of violence. But it's -- there is the mental health issue and there is the social issue of kids that are growing up playing video games and might have shot 30,000 or 40,000 people before they're 16.

MORGAN: And that it dehumanizes at all presence ...

RICK WARREN: It dehumanizes its fun, so it is that culture. And then there is the issue of gun control. And they don't call an assault rifle and assault rifle for nothing, it's for assaulting.

MORGAN: Well, I mean just recently you have this latest incident, in the Naval Yard in Washington, another mass shooting ...


MORGAN: Countless more lives devastated.


MORGAN: And so it goes on, it's just this constant tidal wave, now that you've been so personally touched.


MORGAN: And you were such in a position of authority.


MORGAN: Is it affecting what you're going to be saying about this going forward?

RICK WARREN: Well yeah. I mean it's going to affect me in all three of those areas, not just in simply gun control. By the way, I -- when I heard about the -- that those deaths at the Naval yard, the first thing I did is get down on my knees and pray for those families of the victims, those who died and those who are wounded. And my heart went out to them. I do think that it should -- there is no way a gun should ever get in the hands of a mentally ill person, there's just no way. And so, I -- as I said, California has on of the strictest gun laws around. But even with strict gun laws, he figured out a way. If you are persistent, you're going to figure out a way. So, in addition to laws that restrict, we also have to go to issues of why did my son want a gun? And were there better ways to help him?

We of all people have the means, the ability, the connection to find help for our son. And if we couldn't find, what is the person who's a single parent who has a mentally ill family member or a poor person has a family member. This is an issue that has to be brought to the fore front.

MORGAN: Kay, people say it's a second amendment right of every American to have guns, what do you say to them?

KAY WARREN: It is. It's in our Constitution. So I don't have a problem with that. I am not saying that gun should be outlawed completely. I do believe that our Constitution has at there for a reason. I absolutely do believe in very strong, good laws that protect the innocent and that protect the vulnerable that ...

RICK WARREN: Background checks waiting periods...

KAY WARREN: ... background checks, waiting periods. In fact something that could be added probably fairly easily is there is -- when firearms are given or you purchase it, there's instructions of how to prevent accidental shootings. What if there was just even some information about in that of talking to people about suicide? What if the gun manufacturers and dealers also included information about keeping guns away from people who are mentally ill? I mean just some small simple things that could actually prevent the number of death that happened by guns.

MORGAN: Let's take another break. I want to come back and talk to you about the months that you both basically spend in seclusion after this happened. Also about the appalling attacks you got on the internet, on Twitter and others another curse of the modern age. I want to talk to you about that as well.


RICK WARREN: I never questioned my faith in God. I questions God's plan.




RICK WARREN: When Matthew died, Satan thought he had won, but actually he had lost. Why? Because he couldn't torture him anymore.


MORGAN: Pastor Rick's first sermon of his son Matthew's tragic suicide. Rick and his wife Kay are back with me now.

You obviously have talked about how difficult it was, at the same time you're one of the most famous pastors in America. And you knew there have to be a moment when you got back out there and talked about this.

What was that moment like? I know you both went out on the stage. Kay you only lasted a couple of minutes, because you found it's so difficult which is completely understandable, but for you Rick that moment when you walked out?

RICK WARREN: I was overwhelmed by the love of our people. Kay and I had given 33 years to this church. And I felt like they all gave it back at the moment. It was just a very tender moment for me as a pastor. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death with thousands of people. I have walked, I've stood at bed sides and seeing lots of people take their last breath. I have been there for those people for 33 years. And they were there for us when we needed them most. There are different levels of grief. The easiest funeral to do is when an elderly person dies. They lived a good life. They loved the Lord. They're ready to go to heaven. When my parents died, Kay's dad died, it was kind of a homecoming celebration of a life. More difficult is the death of the spouse. More difficult than that is death of the spouse with little children at home. That's tough.

A murder is a tough funeral to do. Without a doubt the most difficult kind of funeral is the death of a child. Because parents aren't suppose to outlast their children. And then, on top of that is a suicide, confuse us to why?

Now I'm doing the death of a child funeral, the death of my child's funeral. The death of my child's funeral is a suicide and then, as you said it's a well known person, everybody knows it's on the CNN deck and it's on everywhere else. And that's difficult and that's why we just decided -- I decided I was going to use social media to grieve.

MORGAN: This is a tough question for you Rick. There must have been a moment after Matthew took his life when even you questioned your faith in God.

RICK WARREN: I never questioned my faith in God. I question God's plan. There's a big difference. I know God is a good God. Nothing can shake that from my life. I know God is a loving God. The question is -- it's like my children, my children have never doubted that they -- that I love them but they sometimes doubt my wisdom and they don't think I've made the right decision.

Not everything that happens in the world is God's will. Everything that happens in the world God allows, he permits but because it couldn't happen without his permission but we live in a world where there are free choices and if I chose to do wrong, I can't blame God for that. So God isn't to blame for my son's death. My son took his life. It was his choice and if I chose to go out and get drunk and get in a car and I was in an accident, killed somebody, I can't blame God for that.

MORGAN: Kay, have you gone through any doubt about your faith?

KAY WARREN: You know as Rick said it's not -- our faith is currently what's got us -- that foundation what's gotten us through and it's solid and strong but I have to tell you that, you know, before -- I have something I want to show you. There's this box that it was given to me a few years and I -- It's got the word -- it's a marble box and it's got the word Hope on it and ...

RICK WARREN: Her Hope box.

KAY WARREN: ... It's my Hope box and I filled it with verses that gave me comfort, that gave me encouragement, that verses, that just kept my faith really strong before Matthew passed away and everyday I would sit and I would read these verses and that morning after we had been to his house the night before and I was pretty certain that he had taken his life. I got up that morning and I opened my Hope box and I went to these verses one more time and then after that I didn't open it for a month. I couldn't and then I started to think, so where do I go from here? What you'd do when your hope has been crashed and the only way I now how to rebuild it is to go back to my faith and to God's word and this time, I started putting verses in that give me Hope for the future like there's this amazing verse that it's 1 Corinthians 15:43 it says, "Our bodies are buried in brokenness but they will be raised in glory, they are buried in weakness but they will be raised in strength."

And so every time when I go to the cemetery, I quote that verse because, you know, what Matthew's body was broken, that gun broke his body and he was buried in brokenness but he's going to be raised in glory. He was buried in weakness. I think Matthew you were buried in weakness you will be raised in strength. So the struggle has been not in the living that God exists, not that God is evil because God is good.

But I have this other little tiny pot when there's questions I can't answer like did Matthew think of us before he pulled the trigger? Did he -- was there any moment in which he suffered? Why after all those years of prayer and effort did he die? All these things that I have no answers for and I put them in this little pot, it's my mystery pot so here's my Hope box and my little mystery pot and so everyday I almost, I fill it with another question that I can't answer. But what I know to be true is that God will answer those questions. They will be answered and my hope is very certain.

RICK WARREN: I know Matthew was not in heaven, three seconds and all of his questions were answered.

KAY WARREN: Because life makes sense to him now.


MORGAN: Let's take another very short break. I want to come back and continue this about how you've managed to get ourselves and your family back on track after the most awful of place.


RICK WARREN: Matthew wasn't gay. But if it was, we would have loved him unconditionally anyway. It wouldn't make one difference at all. It wasn't. He was our son.




AMY WARREN HILLIKER, RICK WARREN'S DAUGHTER: Lord you know the lonely tears, you know, the moments where we crawl in bed and ask God just to take it all away.


MORGAN: It was Rick and Kay Warren's daughter Amy Warren Hilliker. Rick and Kay are back with me now. Is there any sense Rick despite the appalling despair that you've gone through? Is there any sense of relief as a family that Matthew is now with God in heaven?


MORGAN: Out of pain?

RICK WARREN: Yeah, if I didn't have that hope I would be in ultimate despair but we have built our lives, our faith, our family, our ministry on the belief that because of Jesus Christ and because of what he did on the cross for us we can have our past forgiven, we have a purpose for living, and we have a home in heaven that takes care of my past, my present, and my future.

MORGAN: How much harder has it been for you to deal with the modern curse if you like of internet chatter? People ...

KAY WARREN: We ignore it.

MORGAN: Although I'm going to ask you that. There have been two strands I think that should be in particularly vicious in your case, one are these fake accounts set up supposedly on your behalf?


MORGAN: ... to raise money which is just theft? And you've had to shut down hundreds of these things. And secondly, the rumor mill, that people trying to say, "Well what happened here was Matthew was secretly gay," and therefore your views on homosexuality somehow ticked him over the edge. You know all of this? What is your reaction to it?

RICK WARREN: Well, first Matthew wasn't gay but if it was we would have loved him unconditionally anyway. It wouldn't make one difference at all.

KAY WARREN: He's our son.

RICK WARREN: It wasn't, he was our son. So, it wouldn't have made any difference at all. No doctor would diagnose a patient without seeing him, that will just be considered unethical, but many bloggers and many people on the internet make diagnosis all the time without any knowledge of why they're doing it. You just have to ignore it. You just can't pay any attention to it. We keep what we call a tough skin and a tender heart.

MORGAN: Do you have either of you any big "what if" when you look back on this? Do you have anything you think if only we had tried?

KAY WARREN: Of course that's part of grief.

RICK WARREN: I think you always second guess yourself in grief. KAY WARREN: That's part of grief it's the "what if." I look back over all the years of treatment, all the years of doctors, all the years of every approach we tried and there I was reading my journal again just last night and there were had have been -- there were days that I've just go what if we done this? What if we done that?

MORGAN: Rick, the one "what if" that springs to mind for me example if I was in your position and thank God I'm not, but if I had been as suppose the what if knowing he'd acquired an illegal gun...


MORGAN: ... you had reported that to the authorities. Now, you've already said Kay that he always said if you call the police I'll kill myself. And so obviously an incredibly difficult what if. But do you think that ...

RICK WARREN: Absolutely.

MORGAN: ... it could have made any difference?

KAY WARREN: No. I don't.

RICK WARREN: I don't think it would've made any difference in the fact that if you are determined; you're going to figure out a way to take your life.

KAY WARREN: No, he was determined. I mean the -- it's sitting here in this moment, it's very clinical, it's very, you know ...


KAY WARREN: ... you know, we can second guess all over the place ...


KAY WARREN: ... but in that moment, when you have a mentally ill person who's telling you they're going to take their life, and you -- it's your son and you don't want him to take his life. The choices will almost create such horrendous choice ...

MORGAN: I didn't know it was a ...

KAY WARREN: ... for families. And we through talking to professionals -- I mean we were not making these decisions on our own.

RICK WARREN: Here's another thing, Piers. One that thing that needs to change legally, is to give families more power in dealing with people who are mentally ill in their family. Because the pendulum has swung the other way to human rights so much that many parents and family members cannot get a conservatorship, cannot get a control over somebody. They see a life deteriorating ...

KAY WARREN: The doctor ... RICK WARREN: ... falling apart ...

KAY WARREN: The doctors won't even talk to family members even when the family member has given permission. The doctor ...

MORGAN: Does it breaches the family members' right?


KAY WARREN: Well, and that -- you see the mentally ill, there's -- this is a quagmire and I don't even know how to deal with it, I just know it exist, which is that two of the basic rights that the mentally ill have a right to autonomy and the right to privacy actually stand in the way many times of them getting the help that they need. And I don't have good answers, it's a dance, but we've got to do a better job with that.

RICK WARREN: And we have to face that time and time again and when what we knew was best for Matthew that we couldn't do by law.

MORGAN: Let's take a final break. When we come back and talk about, you lost memory of how you'd like him to be remembered.


RICK WARREN: In God's garden of grace even a broken tree bares fruit.



MORGAN: Back with me now is Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay. Let's get this Rick, have you questioned any stage whether you should have done more as Rick Warren, America's pastor about this issue of mental health before Matthew took his life?

RICK WARREN: Piers, we've always known since Matthew has lived his entire life that one day we would be spokespeople for mental illness. Kay and I have known this for years and years. The reason we were quiet was primarily to protect Matthew's dignity. It was his story to tell. And so, we were always praying either A, he'll be healed miraculously or B, we'll get treatment therapy medicine that helps him manage his disease for the rest of his life and then he can tell his story.

So the only reason that held us back on being public figures on this is like we have been on for HIV AIDS and things like that was his own dignity. And of course, after he died, that issue was gone so there's no more ...

KAY WARREN: And we didn't want him to endure the scrutiny that's being thrown at Rick. We -- He was already struggling to be in the public spot light, to have people scrutinizing his life, would have ...

RICK WARREN: He didn't need that.

KAY WARREN: He didn't need that.

MORGAN: How would you like him to be remembered Kay?

KAY WARREN: Oh, my funny, quirky, ridiculously, silly, deeply compassion. He had such a sense of justice. We put on his marker compassionate warrior and that pretty much sums him up. He had deep compassion.

RICK WARREN: You know, we've probably received over 30,000 letters of condolences. The letters that meant the most to me were the people that Matthew had led to faith in Christ. That they're going to be in heaven because of him. And that was -- I know, the Lord. I have a relationship with Jesus because of your son over the years, and I remember writing in my journal that in God's garden of grace, even a broken tree bears fruit. And that was during his life. And you know, I'd like -- you say why you're happy that it's making a difference, of course I am, I still want my son back.

KAY WARREN: Absolutely.

RICK WARREN: I still want my son back, so. But, as David said in 2 Samuel, David lost a son, he said, "He will not come back to me, but I will go to him" and that is the hope of heaven that we have and that has strengthened us even to the darkest day. You know, David says, "When I go through the valley of the shadow of death," wherever there's a shadow, there's a light. And so, the key to walk into the valley of shadow of death is to turn your back on the shadow, which is scary, and look at the light and that's how you get through it.

MORGAN: Do you feel his -- he is here now?

RICK WARREN: Well, I know that he's in heaven looking down on us and we have many loved ones there, my parents, Kay's mom and dad and the -- that presence of God is more important than the presence of Matthew in my life. It's that I sense the presence of God in my life very close that I'm not going through this alone. That's a comfort.

MORGAN: Rick and Kay, it's been such an honor and a privilege to do this interview. Thank you.

RICK WARREN: Thank you.

MORGAN: Letting me do it in my heart because to you. It's a heartbreaking story.

KAY WARREN: There's hope.

MORGAN: But there is hope.

KAY WARREN: It's so important that people know no matter how desperate, they're despaired, there is hope. There is -- and not to give up, not to give up.

MORGAN: Thank you both very much indeed. RICK WARREN: Thank you.

KAY WARREN: Thank you.

MORGAN: Thank you.