Reflections on the Passing of Robin Williams


How do you make heads or tails of Robin Williams's death?

The news of it came like a ton of bricks.  It seemed, like all things we love,  he would last forever. And he would ease our burdens by making us laugh in so many ways.

He was genius personified.  And the rare comedian who could put on the mask of tragedy.

It is sad he has left us.  Puzzling too.  Here was not only an enormously gifted entertainer but,  by all accounts, a genuinely good person. There have been numerous testimonies to this  fact in the media over the last 48 hours. His USO shows for the troops overseas.  His tender acts of kindness to a young girl, a real victim of cancer, who appeared with him in the movie, "Patch Adams".  His generous nurturing of aspiring stand-up comics.  His selfless and loyal friendships through0ut his life.

But, like most of us, he had his personal issues and problems.  No one,  no matter how successful or well-off,  is immune from the pain, the uncertainty,  the doubts and fears  of being human. He coped with these, I'm sure, in ways he thought best at the time.  No one can look  into the mind or heart of another individual.  So who are we to judge?

But the puzzle remains. And perhaps, it will never be fully explained or solved.

To be or not to be is an eternal question. And one we all face.   Robin Williams answered it in his own way.  Ave atque vale.   Rest in peace.

Filed under: comedy, Life and Death


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  • Considering that his inspiration was Jonathan Winters, who is now considered bipolar, I figured about as much for Williams (due to the manic style of his act), plus the reports about cocaine addiction and the like. The thing that surprises me is that it was an obvious suicide and that a belt worked, instead of the usual overdose.

    In a sense it isn't much different than Chris Benoit, who used a weight pulley machine to kill himself (after killing his wife and son), but in that case I think people in sports entertainment medicine said that his brain had suffered considerable organic damage.

    Obviously, I can't personally conceive of anyone doing themselves in, even if one is depressed.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for reading, Jack. I can't fathom it either. We all need, in our society, to better understand mental illness and look at it like we do any physical ailment. Williams was able to afford and get treatment, but many don't or can't because there aren't enough facilities to treat them, or they can't afford it, or simply because of the social stigma attached to the malady.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I attempted to imply something in my reference to Benoit, and one could throw Dave Duerson and the other football players in that. There clearly was a physical ailment to the brain in those cases, although it was not clear how that damage resulted in homicide.

    Other cases of mental illness seem consigned to the realms of psychiatry or psychology, where behavior seems to be a result of a reaction to stimuli. In some of these cases, psychiatrists prescribe drugs, but it doesn't seem for the reason of supplying some deficiency, but to mask the symptoms.

    For instance, it was said that Princess Di had borderline personality disorder, but not that she had suffered brain damage.

    Throwing more fuel on this fire is the statement from Williams's wife that he was demonstrating the first stages of Parkinson's Disease. Maybe it will be renamed to Michael J. Fox's Disease.

    Of course, not being an M.D., I can't speak authoritatively about any of this.

  • Thank you for such an eloquent and moving piece.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    And thank you, Weather Girl, for reading it. I, like millions of others, was a big fan. I for one will remember him not for how he left the world but for how much he made it a better place.

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