Mork calling Orson

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

I was genuinely saddened to learn of the death of Robin Williams. Whilst his work was varied and talents wide ranging, for me he will always be Mork from Ork. Oh how I loved Mork and Mindy, it wasn't just funny it was bonkers but in parts touched your heart. Even my Gran Kane and Great Aunty Mary watched it.

The outpouring of grief when a 'celebrity' dies never ceases to surprise me and there's a part of me feels uncomfortable with it, it feels more than a little intrusive. When all said and done however sad or upset we feel, this is not our loss to grieve. We will all carry on with our daily routines and Robin Williams not being here in the morning won't stop us from sleeping tonight. 
Admittedly I stalked him on t'internet this morning as before today I wouldn't have been able to tell you if he was, gay, straight, married, divorced, single or had children etc. Is it morbid curiosity? I think not. It's about being forced to confront mortality and making sense of life and death. A stark reinforcement of reality, a back down to earth moment in the 'celebrity' culture we've all become accustomed to and a realisation that public personas are real people with ordinary lives and baggage. Probably excess baggage in fact as having to 'sort your shit' in the public eye must put you under unimaginable pressure. They are as vulnerable as you or I, inspite of fame or fortune.

Would his death have had quite as much media coverage had he died in a hospice of cancer, or peacefully in his sleep? Of course it wouldn't. Whilst I can comprehend people's interest and sadness, I do feel his family as requested should be permitted 'privacy during our time of profound grief' and am not sure the media have made any attempt to respect this. Why publicly un pick his failings and private life, have some respect, and stick to celebrating his good bits. 

Death is hard but suicide is even harder to come to terms with and creates all kinds of scenarios in the minds of those left behind. It's human nature to want to know why and attempt to make some sense in the chaos. There will always be questions when someone dies but suicide creates questions that can't be answered and guilt, that they could/ should have done more and in some way, prevented it. My ex boyfriend's father committed suicide about six months after my own father died and to this day I am ashamed by the lack of support I gave him. Of that time in my life I remember very little but I do remember him remarking on my grief 'at least your Dad didn't choose to leave you'.

In truth mental health needs to be understood in the same terms as physical health. You can have a chronic or acute illness and it's severity can range from a cold right through to being run over by a bus. 

Nobody in their 'right' mind takes their own life and in physical health terms it does equate to being run over by a bus. I've heard it said by health care professionals who work in the field of psychiatry that 'suicide risk assessments are only worth the paper they are written on at the time of writing' and I think anyone with any sense would recognise you can't field it. 

Of Robin Williams and countless others who have taken their lives I hope they have found a peace in death that eluded them in life. For his family I hope that their wishes are respected and they are left to come to terms with their pain and loss away from prying eyes and that with time they will find comfort in their memories. For now I can assure you they will want to 'Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone' just as W. H. Auden suggested.