As an outpouring of grief is happening right now after the suicide of Robin Williams, I find myself in a seemingly very different place than many of my friends. I enjoyed Robin Williams’ work when I was younger: Good Morning, Vietnam was the first R-rated movie I ever saw, and I loved it. But in the past decade, I found Williams’ pain too palpable to allow me to watch his work. Despite his outward humor, he was a truly unhappy man. I couldn’t see past his pain to hear his funniness any longer.
Williams is not the lone comedian to have such pain. It’s my experience that class clowns and comedians often use humor to cope with deep pain in their lives. That pain may be past abuse, deep losses, current depression, substance addiction, or any range of other demons that can haunt us and bring us down. There are many other very popular comedians whom I just can’t watch anymore no matter how funny they are because when I watch them, all I can see is their suffering.
Williams clearly and publicly battled his demons: He was in and out of rehab for alcohol addiction numerous times in recent years. He was addicted to cocaine in previous decades. These addictions, while they often have a genetic predisposition, are also indications of people dealing with great pain in their personal lives.
Please don’t think that I don’t have incredible sympathy for Williams’ family and friends. They have lost someone they cherished: To them, he was not a celebrity but a man they loved. However, it’s not a shock to me at all that he chose to end his own life. He was suffering deeply and was not able to find peace in this world. I hope that now that he has shed his mortal body that his soul can begin to heal from those things which haunted him in his earthly life. I also hope his family and the families of all those who have lost loved ones to suicide can find peace despite their great losses.
(The flower pictured above is a lily. White lilies are commonly used at funerals both for their beautiful simplicity and to symbolically represent the hope that the souls of the deceased have been restored to innocence and purity.)
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance