Honoring Robin Williams: the man who uplifted all of us

August 11, 2014
Robin Williams c/o chicagoreader.com

Robin Williams c/o chicagoreader.com

The revelation of Robin Williams’ passing spread like wild fire through news and entertainment sites tonight. I imagine years from now people will remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the actor/comedian’s untimely death.

I was walking back to my van with my oldest after finishing up Back to School night at a new school and all I could think of was: I must show my kids his work. They’ve never seen an actor like him and I’m positive no one will compare to him in their lifetimes.

Dead Poets Society. Goodwill Hunting. Jumanji. Patch Adams. The list of classics goes on and on. I don’t have to dig deep into my mind to recall the imprint he singlehandedly left on my psyche. Those movie memories were as essential to my upbringing as my own real life experiences.

This one is truly irreplaceable. And I only laid witness to his public talents…I cannot imagine the demons that such an extraordinary actor possessed behind closed doors. He battled with alcohol, drugs, and loneliness yet still managed to make us smile and feel better about ourselves. As did Chris Farley. As did Michael Jackson. As did Amy Winehouse.

Each time a wildly popular celebrity shares their condolences via the Twitterverse or a rather insignificant blogger feels compelled to share their feelings much like I am doing now, I think about Williams’ friends, family, and fans having to reabsorb the shock of reality punching them in the gut time and time again. It’s hard to regain one’s breath while trying to defend against rapid fire punches from every angle.

Yet I feel compelled to tell every reader who stumbles upon this post that it’s ok to feel really sad and lost in response to losing a man we never really knew.

It’s ok to admit that there are days when you feel like you’re treading water in pitch blackness with no life jacket while ocean waves crash all around your head.

It’s ok to feel helpless as you watch someone you love transform into someone you can’t even recognize…to wonder if your days with them are numbered and beyond your control.

It’s ok to acknowledge that you are not perfect and, that despite all of your best efforts, you will never be enough.

It’s ok to not be able to force yourself to fall asleep, to turn off your brain, to numb yourself enough to forget and move on.

I’m here to tell you that I don’t even have to know you to know this: It’s NOT ok to give up.

Yes, this is selfish advice. I don’t have to have a degree in Psychology to know that I believe the world is a better place with you, in spite of all your self-perceived shortcomings and failures, in it.

I’ve written this before, but it’s worth sharing again:

Never do I diminish another person’s feelings nor judge a person who wrongly believes there is nothing left in them to give. If you are reading this and suffer a sense of despair, I beg you to consider those in your life who you impact every day. Do not discredit their need to have YOU in their lives.

If you think you need help, I’m asking you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Robin Williams offered himself up for our enjoyment and we collectively loved every minute of it. He then allegedly gave up on fighting a life that tormented him, resulting in our despair and disbelief.

Honor him and those who love you by saving yourself before it’s too late. Honor him by throwing someone else a life jacket who’s been treading water for far too long.

Written by Heidi Woodard

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13 responses to Honoring Robin Williams: the man who uplifted all of us

  1. 

    We always hope that with the passing of each celebrity or child or friend or loved one that THIS time, the conversation will truly open up about what can be done to prevent it from happening again. But often we just feel continued helplessness about where to start and what to do. Until the next time. My heart breaks and I pray for him to finally have found the peace he was seeking. Great blog Heidi. Thanks for your insight.

    • 

      That really is the only comfort to those left behind, isn’t it? That the person is finally free from their demons? I just hope and pray that people can somehow find their peace here and now. Dealing with depression is a battle I have seen firsthand and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Thanks for commenting.

  2. 

    Well said, Heidi. Nothing to add but maybe putting in a plug for the book, Stay, by Jennifer Michael Hecth. A heavy but worthwhile read.

  3. 

    Wow, Heidi! You weren’t kidding. We were so similar in our feelings and posts. I would guess that comes from similar life experiences. I love all your “it’s okay to’s” – great points.

    • 

      Thank you. I have to limit my time watching the news surrounding his death. It’s very hard to know he’s no longer here. A tragedy that will have a ripple effect on so many — both those who knew him personally and those who watched him perform all of his various characters.

  4. 

    Beautiful post. I felt like I was punched in the gut when I heard about his passing.

  5. 

    I loved Mork and Mindy. He made me laugh when I was young and continued to do until his passing. Nice Post.

  6. 

    I was shocked, and it hit a little too close to home for me for several reasons. I have been wanting to write about it, but I don’t have the words quite yet. Thanks for sharing, Heidi.

    • 

      It’s disheartening that it hits so close to too many people, but that (to me) only means we must do our best to support one another even more. Thank you for commenting. I’m glad to know you read it and found it (somewhat) helpful.

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