Life Lessons from a Funny Man
My heart hurts. A friend of mine online typed that in a comment on a tribute to Robin Williams that I shared on Facebook; that sums it up perfectly. My heart hurts for him, that he felt so isolated, so alone in his pain – and for the world, deprived far too soon of his brilliance. I wonder how long I will grieve for him. I wonder how long we will remember the lessons he is teaching on pain, depression, and relationships.
What have I learned from Mr. Williams?
- Always be a kid at heart – never let that go. See Hook.
- Be yourself – you’re the best you there is! See any of the interviews he did – he talked about the good and the bad of his life.
- When you do something, do it fully, not half-assed! Throw yourself into it! I saw this in Dead Poet’s Society, and in the wide range of roles that he played so well.
- To help yourself, help others. See his tremendous record of helping others, and in doing so in large ways and small. One little girl he visited at her home before she died…talk about really making something personal. He spent the afternoon with her.
- Care – about friends, family, the world at large. From everything I’ve read, he was a good and loyal friend. He certainly was a good friend to Christopher Reeve.
- Do your part – then do some more.
- Talk about the troubles you face, to help others.
- Work from what you know – he often played men who had suffered loss or trauma.
- Stretch yourself – move beyond your comfort zone. (Comedy to drama)
- He taught us what it is to be human: laughing, crying, angry…all of it.
- One person CAN make a difference. He was a tremendous help to many, and supported many causes.
- Laughter IS the best medicine – as is helping others. And with laughter you can even talk about serious things…Comic Relief, American Foundation for Aids Research, Doctors Without Borders and more
- Make your life extraordinary! (He certainly did.)
I hope that we will all take something away from his death – actually, a number of things. First of all, sometimes pain is too much fora person to bear. Is someone near you going though tough times? Sit down with them and LISTEN to them. Really see what is going on – don’t just move on. If you cannot think of anything to say or do for them, JUST HOLD THEIR HAND or listen. I cannot tell you how much that would be appreciated. Sometimes, there is nothing that anyone else CAN do beyond listen. And, for those suffering…consider how much the people around Robin Williams have lost, and how much they grieve. Look at how many people he touched, and most of them he was unaware of personally. No, you may not touch millions, but I bet you touch more people than you think that you do.
Depression is not sadness. It may not even feel like sadness. Telling someone who is depressed to “buck up,” “get over it,” or “get some rest” is about as helpful as telling someone who has broken their foot to “walk it off.” As someone who suffers from depression, I can tell you that there are times when it seems like life will never get better, when it feels like there is no hope. There are days when it is difficult to get out of bed – and I am on medication. I should add, before anyone gets concerned about me, that I am in therapy and days like that are rare now, typically occurring after a major event or stressor in my life.
Listen – and LOOK – for cries for help.
Look at how much one person can do for people – look at how many lives a person can touch.
There is more to a person than what you see on the surface; dig deeper.
Suicide isn’t cowardly; it is a reaction to unrelenting, unbearable pain – pain of a magnitude that most people around the person suffering it are not aware.
Seek help when you need it – repeatedly if necessary. There is nothing wrong in asking for help.
Depression is an illness and we must treat it as such. We wouldn’t tell someone with cancer, “Just get over it.”
Don’t bury things in drugs and alcohol.
Dr. Ara saw it differently. “I believe what we can learn from his life is the way he has used his talents all along — his creativity and passion for art and culture and how courageously he has fought against the evil force that lived inside and outside of him.
“His death probably teaches us humility. No amount of success can ever be enough to overcome our human limitations and that is how we are created.”
“Robin McLaurin Williams.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 132014.
Rest in peace, Robin.