On grieving a suicide

I posted this as a status on Facebook yesterday.  Several people found it meaningful and shared it.  I’m posting it again here for those who aren’t part of my Facebook community.  

The Robin Williams story has me feeling very sad today. As many of you know, I was widowed in 1998 when my husband took his own life. He was no celebrity, but there were still people who needed to satisfy their morbid curiosity about our private life and even a local newspaper reporter who decided to add the details of his death to his obituary.

My heart goes out to Williams’ wife and children. I pray that now that their private pain has been made so public that the media will allow them privacy to grieve. I hope that the “buzz” will turn from the manner of his death to a celebration of his life.

I’m no expert on mental health or theology, but I believe that suicide is the ultimate act of desperation when it seems that all hope of happiness is lost. I believe that a loving God recognizes that the act is one of desperation not based in sinful thoughts, and that the victim of that desperation should be judged on the life he lived, and not on the singular act that ended it.

There are so very many moments in Robin’s career that touched me, made me laugh, or made me think. Once favorite film was the 1990 drama Awakenings. In one scene, Robin’s character Dr. Sayer is having a conversation with his patient, Leonard, played by Robert DeNiro:

Leonard Lowe: We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.

Dr. Sayer: How good what is, Leonard?

Leonard Lowe: Read the newspaper. What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded of what they have and what they can lose. What I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!

Somehow, Robin lost sight of that wonderment. The world lost a great talent. If you are reading this, please take to heart that you are a gift to the rest of us. The world will be less rich, colorful, and diverse without your talents, abilities, and experience.

I thank each of you for the moments we have shared. There has been more than one time when I have been in despair, and a friend has reached out just to say hello, and that has made a tremendous difference in my ability to face whatever obstacle was in my path.

We cannot take responsibility for others’ acts, but we can resolve to be kinder, and to touch the lives of those around us.

I didn’t mean to write a book here… but thank you for reading it anyway. My life is richer for having you in it.


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