When one my best friends mentioned the death of Robin Williams in our phone conversation, I responded with the one-word question of disbelief – “Who?” She repeated his name again and it still took me a few seconds to truly understand the gravity of what had happened. As she explained the few details she knew, an image popped into my thoughts with the words of an old Smokey Robinson song – “Tears of a Clown.” The song states that there is nothing in human life sadder than the tears of a clown when no one else is around. These were my immediate thoughts.
Robin Williams gave all of us feelings of happiness and laughter with his beautiful and amazing talents. It is heartbreaking to think that we could not be there for him while he struggled with his illness. I know some of us will focus on the fact that he committed suicide, but his death is no different than someone who dies after battling cancer or leukemia. Depression is an illness just like cancer and death (suicide) can be the end result just like cancer. It is a known fact that suicide is #10 on the causes of death of Americans.
There is a stigma in our society for persons with emotional illness. Some of us even have family and friends with some level of emotional illness, but we just ignore it. Usually, we make excuses for their behaviors but the deep-down fact is we fear it. If you live a public life (celebrity, politician, etc.) it is even more difficult to seek help when suffering from emotional illness because of the fear of being ostracized. Until the societal view changes on emotional illness, I am afraid we will lose more brilliant, talented, and well-loved individuals to it.
Let us all remember Robin Williams for the smiles and laughter he gave us. Let us accept that at the moment his life ended Robin had suffered more pain and despair than we can ever understand. Let us send up prayers of caring peace for him and his family.
In August 2011, I wrote a post “Down in the Valley – The Valley so Low” ( https://gossipfromthegirlfriendgatherings.com/2011/08/08/down-in-the-valley-%E2%80%93-the-valley-so-low/) about depression – especially in women. Perhaps it is time to revisit that post and give close attention to our family and friends. We must rise above our fears to help those who may need us more. Let us do this in memory of Robin Williams.