With Robin Williams’ death, and him being such a big presence in the lives of families, there has been some well-meaning, yet dangerous, talk that I have noticed from his and other celebrity suicides that I believe we should take note of and be careful with. Ultimately I believe it is a reflection on where society leans in our beliefs of the afterlife, or whether there is one at all.
This article is a little different from the usual ones on Wolf & Iron. However, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on this and think this is the right space to do so.
In particular, regarding Williams, there have been references to him being “free” as the Genie in Aladdin was free; free from addiction, and demonic-like voices and drivenness, etc. This “freedom” implies quite a lot, and I hope we can recognize the danger here. Mainly it implies an awaiting peace in death for all decent people. If you made people laugh, and warmed their hearts, then you get peace. Or perhaps you get nothingness, which is a kind of peace. Folks, people who are suffering from depression and addiction are looking for any way out possible. If the prevailing thought from society says you have peace when you die (without qualification), then that option is going to be on the table along with drugs and alcohol and any other means of escape.
I don’t know Robin Williams and so this next part is not directly related to him or his final destination. That is between him and God. But, there is a desire, when anyone passes, to wish them well, and to sometimes view them in a better place than they were here on earth. That assumes, of course, that there is a better place we go to, but that also confuses the issue because there seems to be some arbitrary means of getting there that no one has quite nailed down and yet we have full assurance in. As a kid, I would go to a funeral and hear the preacher or mother or sister talk about the person who died and how they are one of God’s angels now. Firstly, people don’t become angels, and secondly, if we go by the standards of the Christian religion, not all of the people were going to be happier where they ended up than they were here on earth.
And this is where manliness comes in. Even when it’s hard we have to be truthful. It would be better to wholly abandon our beliefs rather than make exceptions. That isn’t meant to be callous. I don’t mean we should judge people’s final resting place with absolute authority, or that this is even about the afterlife. But we shouldn’t assume someone is free simply because they are dead. Otherwise, it would be better for people to go and serve a charity for a few years and then kill themselves. We would never recommend that to anyone, and we wouldn’t recommend suicide to someone suffering of depression and addiction. Why? Not because we think they won’t go to heaven when they die — many people who have killed themselves are certainly bound for glory –, but because we love them and want to see them live happily and free here, while their time here is allotted for them to do so.
I believe there can be peace after you die, even from suicide. But I think there ought to be qualifications to that peace, else we may encourage a number of souls to depart this earth before their time.
Also, my heart goes out to Robin Williams’ family, friends, and fans. I loved his movies and will really miss all the charisma and charm that he brought to the roles he played and the great range of emotions he took me through over the years. I do pray he is in a place of peace.
As always, I would love your thoughts on this.