When the laughter ends

I suppose I am no different from the many others who are going to post on Robin Williams’ suicide. Perhaps the difference is that I was never terribly fond of his comedy. But I was fond of him as a serious actor and more as a human being. And so still I call this an incredibly sad day. Perhaps this is a chance to speak of those depths of darkness that drive such an act.

I am typically not one to be struck by celebrities and their self-made hells. They are no different from normal people except that their lives are magnified, and all too often glorified, in the public spectacle. But there was something different about the life of Mr. Williams. He was well-known for his over-the-top comedy and excitable nature. There are very few pictures of him not smiling. I think that is why there is so much shock to this sad moment; he seemed so happy all the time.

A smile is the face of depression. It is a smile that doesn’t quite reach the eyes. I noticed it on him as I saw his various movies over the years. There is a poignant proverb that I have always appreciated for it shares this truth few seem to know: “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” I suppose that is another reason I am wary of people who smile all the time.

One of the striking things about Mr. Williams’ suicide is also that he was a Christian. I don’t think that there are many Christians out there who realize their brothers and sisters still battle the demon of despair on a daily basis, even after accepting the hope offered by Jesus. There seems to be so little support within the Church for believers, and non-believers for that matter, who fight that hopelessness. Those who bring happiness, a smile, laughter to others need the same. Yet, we just assume that they are fine since they are a source of strength to the community around them.

In the end, you can hide sorrow from everyone the world over, but never from your own heart, never from God. If anyone reading this struggles with depression, I tell you this: you are not alone. Get help in every area of your life. Depression does not seat itself only within the mind, but also the spirit. Get medical help but don’t neglect getting spiritual help as well. God is here, waiting. He is said to be “near the brokenhearted” and that He is. And if I can be of any help, don’t hesitate to contact me.

As for Mr. Williams, I will look forward to meeting him in heaven someday. Laughter is the language of the angels. What a wonderful gift he gave in sharing it with the world.

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