Laughter and Tears
By Bernadette A. Moyer
Like so many others, I am saddened to learn of the apparent suicide of actor Robin Williams. I had that same sad feeling over the untimely deaths of actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heath Ledger. We hear these stories and we are shocked and think what a waste. They have so much to live for, how could they commit suicide or use drugs that ultimately resulted in a premature death. We have that same feeling when a 17 year old teen takes their life. All we can think to say is “why?” and they “have so much to live for?”
Yet everyday people both ordinary and extraordinary decide that life is no longer worth living. More than 38,000 American’s died of suicide in 2010. That same year suicide was the third leading cause of death for adolescents.
Although I blog about most things, suicide has been one where for the most part I have stayed away from except in 1998 when I had a poetry book published with a poem titled “For David” that reads;
Why, you made us cry
Why, you did not have to die
You took your life
Now it is all our strife
We miss you so bad
We are so sad
Your daughter so beautiful
Your daughter so you
Why David why
What did you do?
His daughter is a grown woman now who yearns for the father that she will never know. We try and make sense of the senseless. We can’t comprehend it. But the reality of life is that it is not always easy. Things happen that can and do break our spirit.
To young people contemplating suicide what I would say is that whatever angst you are feeling it will pass, the beauty of life is that everything changes. Today’s sadness may well be tomorrow’s treasured happiness.
“We live in hope and we die in despair” Richard Scott Harris. It seems that suicide is when hope has been replaced with despair. We may never fully understand it; it seems like a really bold move in killing oneself.
We have learned as a society to take suicide claims seriously and to support and get help anyone that is talking about suicide. I’ve heard it said that many of the funniest of comediennes are also some of the saddest individuals.
What we know for sure is that life isn’t always easy, that asking for what you need and speaking out when you come up short might make all the difference. It has been said that “suicide” is a “mental illness” I think we can group many things into the “mental illness” bin if we so desire but the bigger question is why would anyone from a hugely successful actor to a young teen just starting out ever believe that ending life prematurely is ever better than living life fully?
Through the years I have worked with many teens and been exposed to hopelessness and helplessness of people of all ages. We can treat for mental illness or depression but perhaps we should also use these deaths to look at how we act and how we react and how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters.
In a world that is full of darkness and fighting both externally and internally I still want to believe that love and care cure much that ails us.
Life is so fragile and we are all so vulnerable, love and acceptance over hurts, judgments and denial. If you know of anyone that is thinking about suicide please help them to help themselves. I’ve heard it said that if someone wants to die, to truly commit suicide there really is very little that can be done to stop them. I guess the question we all have as we face our mirror image is “what are we doing to care for ourselves? What are we feeding our hearts and our souls?”
Our “why” anyone would commit suicide may never be answered but we do live in hope. We must believe in better days and a better world and know that individually and collectively we have the power to bring in the light. When someone is weak and can’t see the light perhaps it is our job to help light their way. We are our brother’s keeper, we all feel the loss in actor Robin Williams deciding that his life was no longer worth living. The greater sadness knows that we don’t feel that way about him and yet he felt that way about himself.
“Laughter and tears are meant to turn the wheels of the same machinery of sensibility; one is wind-power; and the other water-power.” Oliver Wendall Holmes
To honor Robin Williams for all the laughter he fueled we pray that he rests in peace and that his family and friends find comfort in knowing that he leaves behind a body of work that is far greater than any single act that resulted in his death.
Imagine if we focused more and more on love and hope and helped to light the way for those living in the darkness just how great this world and could be …