For the past 12 hours social media streams have been flooded with sentiments about Robin Williams’ death.
There are people out there with strong opinions about suicide and many sharing their intimate struggles with mental illness.
Friends are commenting on what a shame this all is because Williams “was so talented.” People are taking it personally.
“He was like a family member,” one friend commented.
I can’t tell you how many times I watched “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Hook” growing up. He was one of the first celebrities who’s name I actually knew. I remember many nights in bed hearing the theme song for “Mork and Mindy” playing downstairs and sneaking to the top step to sit and listen while my parents watched an episode.
Sometimes they’d hear me lingering and invite me down.
Fond family memories of being up past my bedtime, squished on the couch between my parents, and laughing hysterically are tied to Robin Williams for so many people.
And yet, he was very sad.
Many people know that he struggled throughout his life with depression. How can someone living with such deep sadness bring lasting joy to millions of people? If his struggle was so public, why didn’t he have the tools he needed for healing and coping?
If this happened to Robin, it could happen to anyone.
How can we help the people we love?
Reach out to them. Embrace them. Let them know that they are deeply loved.
Accept them for who they are and treat them as they ought to be treated—with patience, compassion and understanding. This is only possible if you’re taking care of yourself first—devoting daily attention to your own physical and mental health.
Without the tools I learned through my yoga and meditation practices, I don’t know where or who I would be today. Practicing mindful breathing has made a tremendous difference in the quality of my life. Talk therapy and journaling help me prioritize and let go. My ever expanding community of family, friends, peers, co-workers and students constantly lift me up in times of sadness.
Ultimately, the little piece of knowledge that has helped me the most is knowing that I can’t seek lasting happiness from anywhere but within. We do the best we can. Often, we succumb to external pleasures, but as long as we can eventually return to ourselves to find peace, something is working.
I will never know what demons Williams wrestled with, but I am grateful for his work in the world. He inspired his fans and gave us the best medicine of all time—laughter. He will be missed and remembered by many.
Rest in deep peace, Mr. Williams.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard