What’s up with grief, anyway?

What, are you crying? You don’t cry, all right? You keep your chin up. Come on, keep your chin up. Crying never helped anybody do anything, okay? You have a problem, you face it like a man.

…Hey, hey, I’m sorry, okay?  Twenty-six years buried in the deepest darkest jungle, and I still became my father.

I grew up on Robin Williams. Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji and Flubber! were my favorite non-animated movies. Aladdin was only second to the Little Mermaid (she has red hair AND lives in the ocean! That bitch had everything). His characters always motivated me to be a better version of myself, but never to compromise who I was, because nothing was worth the price of losing your sense of self.


It’s weird, losing an icon that has followed you your entire life. Other people have found heart-shatteringly beautiful ways of expressing their grief. There has been so much love pouring out towards his family and among fans that it can be truly overwhelming.

Among all this, one of the topics that have arisen is a discussion around whether suicide a selfish act. It leaves the person’s loved ones broken, feeling guilt, shame, and loss. It causes an unfathomable amount of pain for those left to pick up the pieces. This is especially true when that family member is internationally renowned, meaning all that self-doubt, those thoughts that maybe if you had cared more, had done more, had tried harder, they wouldn’t have done what they did, are being aired by complete strangers who seem to think they know the situation better.

It’s a fucking nightmare.

So yes, suicide is selfish. It is selfish that we think we are entitled to have a say in another person’s life and how they choose (or not choose) to lead it. It is selfish to judge another person’s actions when we have not walked in their shoes. It is so very selfish to diminish an entire life down to a single action, be it positive or negative. It is selfish to forget that such thoughts are not their own, that it is an illness which can sometimes rob the victim of the ability to rationalize. Such actions are not done in spite of the good in a person’s life, or because of the bad. It is simply a feeling of helplessness made endless by a disease we still know little about.

It’s not about you. At all. It never was.

We weren’t there when he was suffering. We don’t know what it was like, or how he managed as long as he did. What we can do is actually fairly simple. We remember. We remember the wonderful memories he gave us. We remember that no illness, no single act can define a person, even one as final as this.

We remember to be good to each other while we’re around.


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