Disclaimer: I am not an expert in depression or brain chemistry or religion or anything that I might mention in this post. I am not trying to start an argument or point fingers or blame anyone.
Robin Williams died earlier this week. He committed suicide and was battling depression. I do not claim to know all the details and I am trying not to read every article and blog post that comes down on my News Feed, on Facebook or otherwise.
His death, regardless of the means, is a tragedy. Any death is a tragedy.
However, he is dead. Wherever his soul has ended up is up for debate. Some believe that suicides are condemned to Hell. My knowledge of that extends to Dante’s Inferno, where the souls of suicides are condemned to trees and can only scream in pain when harpies tear at their branches. These trees do not give sap, but blood. It repeats over and over and it sounds awful. I do not wish that on anyone.
But there is nothing that those left behind can do. We cannot wish for souls to move to a different plane. The dead are dead and there is nothing that will change that.
What we can do is try to comfort the family and friends who are mourning. We can do our best to bring a little light to their dimmer worlds, now that their loved one is gone. And that will not happen if we are busy blaming the person who has taken their life. While we are pointing fingers and pushing away blame, we are doing nothing but making others feel worse about their loss.
I don’t want to be the one pointing fingers. I want to be the one bringing comfort.
We shouldn’t use suicide to condemn the dead; we should use it to see the signs of depression. We should take this loss and make it into a moment for good. Maybe someone will notice that a friend is acting strangely and reach out; maybe that friend is suffering from depression and now has someone to talk to.
We shouldn’t look up and say, “Well, I had depression, but I certainly didn’t choose to take my life.” We should look up and say, “Yes, I had depression and it was hard to continue living some days. But I managed and now I want to help others do the same.”
Depression and any other condition that would drive a person to suicide are serious. Maybe it has something to do with brain chemistry; maybe it is something in a person’s soul. I’m not an expert. I do know that depression takes root deep within a person and it is hard to eradicate. Like a weed, you can pull away the visible part but the roots are still there, growing deeper and deeper and sometimes, there doesn’t seem to be any way out. You can’t even see a glimmer of light and without that light, you can’t see how the situation could get better. Sometimes, the hand reaching down in the darkness can’t be seen at all and there doesn’t seem to be any hope.
It is a horrible, sick feeling. It is all consuming and terrifying. And rest in peace might seem like a good idea. After all, the dead don’t care about the living.
But the living will have no peace knowing that their loved one is gone.
To Robin Williams close family and friends, I hope that you eventually find peace. I hope that someone close to you reaches out and just holds your hands, so you know that you have support. Lean on that support.
To those who are suffering from depression, however severe, please reach up. Someone may be reaching down to save you and you just don’t know it. But you can climb out of the pit. It may take a while, but please, hold on to the helping hand and climb. You are not alone and eventually, it does get better. You will find peace and it won’t be in death.