When you experience the loss of a friend, parent or loved one, it’s a very agonizing reality. Grief is very private and individual. No one can fully identify with your grief.
There has been a lot of media attention given to the death of Robin McLaurin Williams. Some of this attention borders on the sensational personal struggles of this kid from Chicago who made us laugh and cry.
Susan Schneider, Robin’s wife, has asked
“On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”
Robin was an extraordinary human being. Besides being a great thespian, he was a humanitarian whose presence and resources were used to better the lives of those struggling on the road of life.
Unfortunately, when people in the public circle encountered Robin they expected the character of television, stage and film. They chose not to see the man himself.
“People think they know you. They expect you to be literally like you are on TV or in the movies, bouncing off the walls. A woman in an airport once said to me, “Be zany!” People always want zany, goofy sh-t from me. It takes a lot of energy to do that. If you do that all the time, you’ll burn out’.”
Like so many children and teenagers, Robin found that life was lonely and shyness was a precursor to a solitary path. Yes, he was bullied like so many children are today.
Bullies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Perhaps they bully to seek an apology for their own birth by making life miserable for those unique individuals who follow a different drummer than of the rest of the clan.
Robin’s parents were working professionals so he spent time with his army of toy soldiers and allow his imagination to open up the possibilities which come from creativity of the spirit. Perhaps it was his solitude with his imagination that led to his performance on stage where one could be whatever character you wanted and where shyness fades into the shadows of the stage corners where the spotlight does not shine.
“I started doing comedy because that was the only stage that I could find. It was the pure idea of being on stage. That was the only thing that interested me, along with learning the craft and working, and just being in productions with people.”
We should be appreciative that Robin chose the stage to grace us with his talent, zaniness and seriousness. This legacy will live on for generations.
His daughter Zelda quoted THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
“You—you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You—only you—will have stars that can laugh.”
She concluded: “I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up.”
Robin’s favorite childhood book was C. S. Lewis’ THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. This book of a magical place with strange creatures ties in with a child’s imagination and curiosity. He read the Chronicles of Narnia to his children. These are memories they will never forget.
Perhaps, Robin will traverse the corridor of the wardrobe and find his Narnia more majestic and beautiful than human imagination can fathom. What is Narnia but childhood reborn in a place beyond time and space where a child can be king or queen forever.
May this human spirit who has left our shores of eternity find a comedy repertoire in the cosmic ocean. Comedy as well as his life song is needed to make a whole, and it seems that wholeness and beauty paint the canvas of what lies beyond human reach in the majesty of the heavens.
G. D. Williams © 2014
Robin Williams Tribute
5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Robin Williams
Robin Williams Quotes That Will Stay with Us
DAILY NEWS: A Look Back At His Life
Robin Williams’ Wife Susan Schneider Makes One Final Statement
“Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid. Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.
Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.
It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”
The Daily Mail
Robin Williams’s Death Reminds Us of Misconceptions Surrounding Depression
In reality, major depression is best described by Duke University psychologist Stephen Ilardi as a “debilitating syndrome.” So debilitating, in fact, that it suppresses a key hormone that can damage neurons in the brain in areas critical to maintaining memory and reasoning.
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the US, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. In 2012, an estimated 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the US had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. A combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors can trigger depression.
But unlike other major diseases, the process of getting a diagnosis or even finding a root cause is not so clear. It often starts with a conversation with a doctor. In fact, a conversation is the best diagnostic tool physicians have to diagnose depression. Doctors look for specific prolonged feelings and behaviors in a person’s everyday life that could be signs of the disorder. A patient may have to fill out a questionnaire that can help rule out other conditions.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
DARKNESS VISIBLE: A MEMOIR OF MADNESS by William Styron
Depression afflicts millions directly, and millions more who are relatives or friends of victims. It has been estimated that as many as one in ten Americans will suffer from the illness. As assertively democratic as a Norman Rockwell poster, it strikes indiscriminately at all ages, races, creeds and classes, though women are at considerably higher risk than men. The occupational list (dressmakers, barge captains, sushi chefs, cabinet members) of its patients is too long and tedious to give here; it is enough to say that very few people escape being a potential victim of the disease, at least in its milder form.
Despite depression’s eclectic reach, it has been demonstrated with fair convincingness that artistic types (especially poets) are particularly vulnerable to the disorder—which, in its graver, clinical manifestation takes upward of twenty percent of its victims by way of suicide. Just a few of these fallen artists, all modern, make up a sad but scintillant roll call: Hart Crane, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Arshile Gorky, Cesare Pavese, Remain Gary, Vachel Lindsay, Sylvia Plath, Henry de Montherlant, Mark Rothko, John Berryman, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, William Inge, Diane Arbus, Tadeusz Borowski, Paul Celan, Anne Sexton, Sergei Esenin, Vladimir Maya-kovsky—the list goes on.
(The Russian poet Maya-kovsky was harshly critical of his great contemporary Esenin’ s suicide a few years before, which should stand as a caveat for all who are judgmental about self-destruction.) When one thinks of these doomed and splendidly creative men and women, one is drawn to contemplate their childhoods, where, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, the seeds of the illness take strong root; could any of them have had a hint, then, of the psyche’s perishability, its exquisite fragility? And why were they destroyed, while others—similarly stricken—struggled through?
“For those who have dwelt in depression’s dark wood, and known its inexplicable agony, their return from the abyss is not unlike the ascent of the poet, trudging upward and upward out of hell’s black depths and at last emerging into what he saw as ‘the shining world.’ There, whoever has been restored to health has almost always been restored to the capacity for serenity and joy, and this may be indemnity enough for having endured the despair beyond despair.” William Styron