The tears of a clown

Robin_Williams Evidently, there is debate raging online about the suicide death of Robin Williams. I haven’t been seeing much of it but I think that’s mainly because I don’t generally have that guy for a friend. The only reason I know about it at all is because somebody who is my friend shared this graphic and a lengthy plea for tolerance that included this:

Sometimes we take, take, and take and forget to refill, replace &/or replenish… No harm no foul… Or so we think. People do this with people too… I understand that sensation of being drained & pulled in every direction & left dry… I know many people who deal with that daily & I know of people who take selfishly daily too. To feel more lonely in a room full of people than when you’re by yourself, no one understands this?

Like this unknown person, I know very well what it is like to feel lonely in a room full of people — although that was less a function of depression and more a function of my introversion. All it ever takes to make me happy in a room full of people is one person to talk to. Lampshades for hats are not required.

But, in the wake of this terrible tragedy, it is difficult for me to imagine angry people calling Robin Williams selfish for taking his own life. That is a statement that is itself so profoundly selfish that the mind boggles.

This human being is in terrible pain, agony of a type and quality that most people never, ever experience — or perhaps they know it briefly when they grieve the loss of someone in their lives who has died or been diagnosed with cancer or something, only imagine that instead of feeling that pain and then having it lessen over time until it was barely a small ache that you forget most of the time, you feel it all the time, every waking instant of your life, with no hope of deliverance, no hope of healing that you can see.

Can you possibly imagine what that must be like?

And then to mount your high horse and proclaim that this tortured individual ought to voluntarily continue to subject themselves to this agony simply to spare you the inconvenience of having to mourn their loss? Nobody, absolutely nobody owes you that.

(Well, nobody except your parents and only until such time as you don’t need them anymore.)

I suspect the anger is part of the grief cycle elucidated for us by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. You remember: denial, anger, bargain, depression, acceptance.

Be that as it may, here is the bottom line: those tortured, bereft individuals owe you nothing. If they find their lives so very unbearable that they choose to end them — and I am not advocating suicide here, so don’t even go there — the least you can do, if you are unwilling to deal with the degree to which you are responsible for not being able to ease their burden, is to refuse to take it personally.

Rest in peace, Robin. You will be missed.

Just like Pagliacci did
I try to keep my sadness hid
Smiling in the public eye
But in my lonely room I cry
The tears of a clown
When there’s no one around.
– Smokey Robinson

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3 thoughts on “The tears of a clown

  1. The amount of pain and desperation you have to be in to reach the point where death is your only way out… No words can describe that feeling. I’ve been there once, and I wouldn’t wish that on even my worst enemy.

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  2. Pingback: By the way … | Beyond the Crucible

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