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August 15, 2014 / Jon Ericson

A death in the family

The first I heard of Robin Williams death it was from someone who thought it might be a hoax. While poking around the internet (and eventually finding the press release), I was reminded of what I did on Good Friday: searching for answers I didn’t want to find. What I feared most last April as a brother was to find evidence of drugs or suicide. Not because there was any reason to fear that, but when a person dies suddenly and alone in this day and age, we are conditioned to expect those things.

It’s been a rough week for many Americans since we lost the man who breathed life into Mork, Popeye, Peter Pan, and the rest. Robin Williams gave us more happiness than we could ever give back. In the face of this death, we are all powerless. But this post isn’t about Robin Williams. Truth is few people knew the demons he fought. Our efforts to dig inside his mind are wasteful. The one thing I venture to suggest is that he very likely did not know, in those final moments, that God loved him.

Yesterday my oldest son, who is about to enter middle school, was working on his God and Family award for scouting. One of the exercises was write a litany like Psalm 136 where he was supposed to fill in a line about a time he felt unloved followed by the phrase, “God loves me no matter what!” And he couldn’t do it because he always feels loved by God. As a parent, I have never felt so proud; nothing could be more important that raising a child who always feels securely loved.

Of course our job is not done. The world overflows with reasons for feeling unloved and he hasn’t experienced a fraction of what conspires to destroy him. Many parents have lost their children to drugs, depression, suicide, and other evils after good starts. And we stand on the brink of adolescence where many parents have shipwrecked their children via unreasonable boundaries and nonexistent boundaries. Looking back on my own life, I don’t know if I felt unloved very often before junior high either.

What makes Robin Williams’ suicide so hard to accept is that the love and admiration of millions of people just isn’t enough. My hope for people I love who struggle with depression is that the love of God just might be.



Leave a Comment
  1. UK / Oct 7 2014 10:05 am

    I’ve also lost my dad to suicide, back in 1978, when I was 5 years old. Even today this is something that influences my life (and the life of my mother) in some ways.

    • Jon Ericson / Oct 7 2014 11:09 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I can’t imagine losing my own father so tragically and so young.

      I’ve found that telling my story brings out the stories of grief in others. I think it helps to know that even though our suffering is unique, we are not alone.

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