“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” – John Keating (Robin Williams), “Dead Poet’s Society”
It’s old news today that nearly a week ago Robin Williams died.
The extraordinary actor who made the world laugh, made sick children smile and gave us memorable moments forever captured on film took his own life after suffering for years with depression.
In the days following his death, most responses were kind and compassionate. A few, not so much.
One of Mississippi’s own, Shepard Smith, held forth on Fox News, calling Williams a coward. How about a little mercy, Shep.
He’s entitled to his opinion, but not all opinions should be shared with the world. Smith has since apologized.
Rush Limbaugh said Williams’ suicide “fits a certain picture or a certain image that the left has. Talk about low expectations and general unhappiness and so forth.”
Now he is saying folks misunderstood what he was saying. I don’t think so.
Other pundits have ranted on radio this past week about the ultimate destination of Williams’ soul, claiming the lifelong Episcopalian was not a Christian and did not have a relationship with God.
Such judgment is not becoming of people who claim to follow Jesus.
Something else has happened this past week as well.
Strangers and friends alike have penned blogs, Facebook postings, emails about their own struggles with the light-snuffing fog of depression. Some of these people found courage for the first time ever to share their stories. Williams’ tragic death has started a crucial conversation that needs to continue.
I know – and love – people for whom depression is a reality. And though I am ashamed, I will admit I don’t understand. But I plan to try harder.
The loss of Robin Williams for his children, his wife, his friends and the world is cruel.
But he has left behind a lavish legacy to help us remember.
Thank you, sir, for the laughter.
More importantly, thank you for making us stand upon our desks to, hopefully, view depression in a different way.