We all have one primary task in life: BE KIND.
Like so many others, we are saddened at our house by the death of Robin Williams. How could someone so talented, cheerful, well-loved and successful believe his life wasn’t worth living? Because depression spares no one– and all the fame, money and awards on earth can’t insulate us from the demons whispering “you’re worthless” “you don’t matter” “everyone would be better off without you.”
It’s a good opportunity to talk about depression with our kids, our friends and loved ones. We’ve been speaking openly and honestly the past few days. “So many brilliant people deal with depression and you’re brilliant. So watch out for it.” (or replace brilliant with creative, or blue-eyed or human– it doesn’t matter). I think there may have been a time when my children might have been insulted by the suggestion they might be vulnerable– but right now we are all sobered.
Even more so, I believe Robin Williams’ death provides a reminder to simply, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” — Ian Maclaren (I think I’ve finally found the correct attribution). Our lives, our words extend to so many others in a way never seen by any generation previously.
I was saddened to read Williams’ daughter Zelda deleted her Twitter and Instagram accounts because of cruel comments and photos. You’d think if there was ever to be a time to be kind, it would be after the tragic death of a loved one. But I know from my own experience and those of my close friends, there will always be people lined up to kick you when you are down.
I think it stems from insecurity, a lack of empathy and well, insecurity.
For some reason, we tend to minimize others’ pain. I’ve done it myself— listened patiently to someone’s story while inwardly thinking “That’s not so bad.”
But I’ve come to learn we can never judge another’s sorrow. What may sound simple on the surface usually hides an iceberg of complexity. Our job, whether they are complaining of a bad haircut or severe depression, is offering love and sympathy. What does it cost us? Nothing. And what do we gain by telling someone to “Buck up!”? Damaged relationships, a lack of trust and pushing a hurting person further into the abyss.
Almost no one on this planet feels loved, appreciated or important enough. As my adorable niece Lizzy said, “I consider myself extremely confident and I’m amazed at my own insecurities.” I think most of us travel a range of supremely confident to fairly worthless at some point in our life. In fact, I can usually tell I’m feeling bad about myself when I gossip, feel jealous of a friend’s success or become critical of other people. And because we are so much more connected these days, we have so many more opportunities to envy and criticize others.
Another quote from Lizzy, “No bully thinks about the people being picked on; they just think about how picked on they feel themselves.”
I’ve often wondered what the painful events in my own life the past five years have taught me. Usually I just feel like I’ve become more cynical, less trusting, sadder. I’ve struggled to find anything I’ve learned, except this: You can’t judge or even understand another’s pain; you can’t possibly know all the circumstances. No one needs your advice or platitudes. Simply extend love and sympathy to everyone.
We all pursue different goals, careers and ideals in this life, and we will inevitably bump and bruise each other, but we are here to help, to lift, to be kind.