Here we are a mere 72 hours after the shocking death of Matthew Perry. Did I know Matthew? No, not personally. Yet, when I woke during the early morning hours after his death, my heart was so saddened for his family. I know firsthand how devastated his parents are feeling. With his rise to fame in the popular sitcom Friends, many felt like he was their friend. As the hours passed, I began to think of the words to the song, Friends, by Michael W. Smith: “Friends are friends forever, if the Lord’s the Lord of them. And a friend will not say never because the welcome will not end. Though it’s hard to let you go in the father’s hand, we know that a lifetime is not too long to live as friends.” Matthew will always be everyone’s forever friend.
For those of us who have experienced loss, our hearts are sensitive to those who find themselves on the grief journey. Even if we never knew them, we can empathize with how others are feeling. Although most of us have never met Matthew, if you have ever lost a child, you understand how his parents are currently feeling. No matter what the circumstances of a child’s death, they will always be our babies.
Matthew’s character, Chandler Bing, lifted the hearts of millions with his humor and quick wit. But he also knew this was not the most essential part of his life. Because of Friends, he knew he had a platform that could be used to influence and touch other’s lives. He became intentional to use it for good.
As I read countless comments about him, one that touches my heart is a statement he made just one year ago when he described how he most wanted to be remembered:
“When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends. And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor, as well as given people multiple chances to make fun of my struggles on the world wide web…But when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people. I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice” ~ Matthew Perry.
As a person who struggled with the disease of addiction for decades, he wanted to be remembered for how he helped others who had the same disease. He founded the Perry House in Malibu, a sober living facility for men. It was those men who I thought of and lifted in prayer on Saturday morning when I heard the news. I could only imagine how they may be feeling due to the death of their friend who helped provide a hand-up.
Grief and loss will touch each of our lives regardless of social status, race, religion, or ethnicity. While we can be grateful that friends are friends forever, let’s lift those who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Let’s pray that Matthew’s death doesn’t cause the men he longed to help to relapse. The disease of addiction brings with it a stigma, and just like Matthew Perry, I will continue to use the platform I’ve been given to do all possible to remove that stigma. Will you join me?
Matthew said, “God has never left me and I never gave up.” We should all take a page from his book. Let’s not make any assumptions about his death. Instead of judging, let’s take advantage of the opportunities here to support and love others as they walk this journey. 💜🫂💜