I am not given to writing about the famous, but this particular death touches a topic too often avoided, so bear with my departure from the norm.
He made us laugh, he made us cry; through his movies he also made us think – perhaps reflect on not only the power of laughter - but through comedy on many more important themes.
These will remain.
But perhaps his death, as unbelievable as it is, will also be his final gift to society: allowing us to finally admit the seriousness of a disease called depression.
A disease that many refuse to acknowledge but a disease that is often just as fatal as any cancer, as any heart disease. Mental illness is unacceptable to our highly striving and perfectionist society, nevertheless, it exists and simply ignoring it or belittling it certainly does not help those individuals who suffer from it, nor their families.
Any family touched by suicide knows how difficult it is to fight the “shame” of having such in their life, how hard it is to understand how it could happen and today there aren’t many persons who don’t know of someone who has committed suicide. Ironic that it is a disease more prevalent in the “developed” countries where we supposedly have everything that we need than in those countries where just staying alive is a constant struggle.
Often it is those who seem the happiest, the funniest who inside are hurting and have no way of showing it. I will never forget the phrase of someone close to me when I questioned that person’s apparent “lack of sorrow”: “just because I am not crying outwardly doesn’t mean that I am not feeling the deluge of sorrow inwardly”.
R.I.P. – to paraphrase one if his favourite quotes in a language, which he spoke fluently: “Il nous est donné qu’une petite étincelle de folie: on ne doit pas le perdre.”
Go entertain the universe Robin, we all need laughter.