Like his life that loomed large on the screen, Williams’ death loomed large on the world stage. Millions joined his family in mourning his loss. Celebrities from across the spectrum struggled for words to express their grief at the shocking news.
Perhaps it is a reminder that there are deadly undertows in life that suck any person beneath the surface and drown their desire to live. Like the rip tides that drag swimmers into the deep, the undercurrents of anger, guilt and despair can drag anyone into the depths of depression from which they cannot survive. Almost every family is touched by this tragedy that is often buried in memories too sensitive to touch.
A little more than a year ago I wrote a column about suicide. One of my readers sent it to his friends whose son had taken his own life. They wrote in response:
“Thank you. No one other than our closest relatives, and there are very few left; has mentioned our son’s suicide in conversation or written word since it happened. That alone, being the elephant in the room that no one dare acknowledge, is sometimes the most painful emotion. We are used to it and we understand…..it is just very strange. It pleases me so for someone to actually mention what happened. Death is a part of life just as other things.
“Trust that my wife and I are stronger now than we were then. We have been married 42 years and we have become the “union” that the Bible speaks of. We have full faith of our reunion with our son. Suicide can be a complex issue to a theologian. It is a simple fact of love and faith for those close to it. Feel free to share our story to those who know us, or even to those who do not. It is through the grace of God that we survived. It is through the grace of God that we love life and have a genuine peace that passes all understanding.”
Their response reminds me of Paul’s response to a Roman guard who was about to commit suicide. After Paul admonished the soldier to “do yourself no harm.” The man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul responded, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. You and your whole household.” The man dropped his sword, took them to his house and washed their wounds. (Acts 16:25-34).
David, wrote, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14).