Robin Williams, Suicide and The Stone of Loss

robin williamsThere is an audio-cassette I remember listening to over and over. 

By the time I’d outgrown it or lost it I knew much of it by heart. My brother as well.

It was Robin Williams Live at the Met. 

My brother and I must have watched every single episode of Live at the Improv (a stand up comedy showcase). In the end, I went into improv semi-professionally and my brother Toby went into stand-up comedy. 

Mork and Mindy was one of my favourite shows growing up. And Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King and Dead Poets are three of my favourite movies of all time. 

In short, I was a big fan of Robin Williams. And somehow, yesterday, it seems that after decades of struggling with depression and addiction, he took his life. 

It’s heartbreaking. 

And heartbreaking how common suicide is becoming. 

And of course, there are ways we could easily connect the increase of suicide very directly with marketing.

Much marketing is predicated on creating a feeling of inadequacy (often obliquely, elegantly and subtly) and then selling the thing that (they tell you) will fill that hole (which didn’t exist until they created it). We receive thousands of marketing messages every day. Many of them designed to create this feeling that we’re missing something. And so it is not surprising that many of us grow up feeling inadequate and unworthy. Much of marketing ties into the story of scarcity we tell ourselves while simultaneously crafting the story that we should have no limits at all and that limits are a bad thing. Marketing is all too often the charming ambassador of the worst aspects of capitalism and the modern world.

At a deeper level, it’s not just the ads and TV commercials. It’s the TV shows themselves that market a certain lifestyle. When television is introduced into traditional communities, they often quickly fall apart. Not usually because the ads make them want to buy but because the shows themselves often portray a lifestyle different than theirs and gives them the implied message that what they see on Friends is normal. They think to themselves, ‘my apartment doesn’t look that nice…’, ‘ my wife isn’t that attractive…’, ‘ my husband is so muscular and successful…’ 

I could further make the connection that marketing is connected to suicide in pointing out that if all of the 10,000 or so people on this email list (healers, life coaches and permaculture practitioners alike) were to have robust, sustainable businesses that there would be a more beautiful world and less suicide. And if we extended that to everyone in the world who is up to good things being successful (the missing component of which is often marketing) that we would see healthier and happier communities and less people choosing to take their own lives. 

But, of course, while there is truth in that, it’s a cheap and oversimplified approach that doesn’t honour the depth of what challenges lie before us.

So, this is not a post about marketing.

Marketing all too often is in collusion with all of the forces that can make us feel terrible about ourselves (often, tragically, by giving us the message that we shouldn’t ever feel terrible).

I was first touched by suicide with the loss of one of my dearest friends, Tooker Gomberg who took his life just over 10 years ago and whose birthday was yesterday. Like Robin Williams, he was one of the most powerful forces of creativity I’ve ever met. And in the past few years, so many dear ones have gone the same way – Kylen Groeneveld, Logan Symington, Alex Thomas Haug, Desiree, Louise. They all made this world so much brighter and they are all gone now. As Robin Williams put it, ‘You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” But so many do. And when they do, we all do. 

And then, on March 11th on this year, I was witness to a dear man, Mark Carlson, who, after four minutes of conversation on the High Level Bridge, let go and fell as I watched helplessly. Caitlin Klingbeil wrote a very thoughtful article about the experience and the epidemic of suicide here

Many of us have been touched by friends and family making attempts at their lives. 

And we are all left with a wondering of what we can do to make things different in the future. Certainly, there is much we can do to be more gracious and kind to each other. And there is much we need to do move beyond a focus of self care into community care. There are things we can learn about how to be with someone who has just attempted. And we can learn what the warning signs are and the basics of what to say and do if we suspect a friend might be considering taking their life or hurting themselves.

This past year has been the most intense and trying year or my life where much was almost lost as a result of decisions I made. It’s been a year of growing up for me that has left me deeply depleted, suffering occasional anxiety attacks and with a body more full of stress than I had thought. I feel, most often in the evenings when I am tired, the deep effects of the trauma of this past year sitting deep in my bones and feel daunted by the amount of work I know it will take to bring meaningful healing to it. I am exhausted. This year took me to a point where I felt I would truly break and where, for the first time, suicide or hurting myself became, briefly, a possibility. And going there terrified me but also filled me with a deep sense of, ‘I get it now.’ Sometimes the emotional or physical pain is just too much. 

So, of course, this is a much larger conversation that just ‘marketing’. There are so many larger things that need to be changed to make any meaningful difference in the rates of suicide. And I’m not just talking about suicide prevention programs, netting and barriers on bridges, addiction treatment programs or peer support programs in schools. Those are all vital but what is fundamentally needed, and is becoming increasingly clear to many, is the tearing down of a culture and economy that makes suicide the likely, if not inevitable, for so many and the rebuilding of a society that feeds the deepest recesses of the human soul and honours our need to die to our old, smaller selves and be born again as adults who can contribute meaningfully to the community. And we need guidance in understanding how our deepest wounds might actually be the most certain doorway into understanding our truest role in the community. 

We live in a culture where the soil of the Earth is depleted and so is the soil of our culture. The monoculture of our crops, languages and actual cultures is leaving us more poor. Instead of real sources of strength and nurturance, we are left with toxic mimics: refined sugar, refined salt and processed food instead of real food, pornography instead of a meaningful expression of the erotic impulse, working for the man instead of meaningful work and right livelihood, box stores instead of locally owned businesses. With only the most cursory of examinations, we discover that our lives are full of these toxic mimics. And we see that a culture devoid of myths and genuine heroes will, inevitably, create Hollywood and celebrities. 

It is easy to have compassion for the poor, but the rich are just as trapped as anyone by this. Any form of activism that doesn’t also work to redeem the oppressor is ultimately, in my mind, doomed to fail and simply replace them with a dictator of slightly different political stripes – less and opposite and more an opposame. Caroline Casey speaks of this more beautifully than anyone I know. 

Yes. we need to move towards a green economy where our marketing makes green things seem normal rather than making normal things ‘seem’ green… but then beyond it

We so desperately need to move away from empire and back towards the village. We need elders giving medicine, not olders on drugs. We need rituals and markers of initiation from childhood into adulthood. We need places that can hold and encourage the deep levels of grieving that are called for in these times. In short, we need a much different, deeper and more resilient cosmology than the one we currently have. One that tells more accurate and life affirming stories about society and life and one that encourages a deeper collaboration. What is clear is that the distractions and entertainments of our modern day media circus are not making us happy and that something deeper and more sacred would. 

 

“The truth is there are losses you never get over. They break you to pieces and you can never go back to the original shape you once were, and so you will grieve your own death with that of your beloved lost. Your grief is your love, turned inside-out. That is why it is so deep. That is why it is so consuming. When your sadness seems bottomless, it is because your love knows no bounds. Grief teaches us about who we are, and any attempt to crush it, to bury it with the body is an act of vengeance against your own nature. If everyone felt, honoured, respected and trusted their true feelings, this world would be a different place. Instead of reacting, we would respond. Instead of judging, we would see ourselves in everyone. Instead of consuming, we would notice that we cannot fill the gaping wounds inside of us with trinkets.” – Alison Nappi

 

We need to acknowledge the role that marketing often plays in the propping up of a dying culture and the crippling of our self esteem and yet also become the most eloquent, persuasive and effective storytellers of a different way of living. We need to become as inspiring as Mr. Keating was to his students to urge everyone to give their gifts now. Instead of a marketing based on creating shame, we need a marketing that feeds people the messages that let them know they aren’t alone. We need a marketing based on empathy not exploitation of people’s hot buttons and pain points. 

 

 

In Edmonton, I have been working to foster as much conscious community as I can by hosting potlucks and with the creation of The Local Good, Indigo Drinks, The Good Hundred Experiment and, in January, The Social Yogi. There is a deep need for spaces where good people can come together. Bill McKibben, in his book Deep Community, points to the studies done that show that ten times more conversations happen at a Farmer’s Market than at a Safeway. Conversations, community and connections are not luxuries, they’re what keep us human. As Alistair MacLeod said, ‘We’re all better when we’re loved.’

I find myself diving deeper into understanding what it means to move back towards the village idea and diving into the work of Stephen Jenkinson and attending The Art of Mentoring in a few weeks in Ontario. I find myself drawn to reading mythology and old stories for food for my own soul and in hopes that I might find food and medicine worthy of sharing with others (and the ways to share it).

 

“When the end seems near, ancient and lasting things are also close and waiting to be discovered… What we find at the end are both last things and things that last.” – Michael Meade, Why The World Doesn’t End 

 

Robin Williams death, and every other death, reminds us that life is so incredibly short and yet so many of us die with regrets. Many of us live our lives vacilating between the collapsing of self pity or the over-confident posturing of self importance and so seldom find any real comfort in our own skin. And, for some, that discomfort of being alive becomes far too much and they feel a sort of pain that many of us will never know and the most we will be able to do is believe them when they say it hurts and respect it. Life will break all of us even if we choose not to take our lives. Not everything is going to be okay. But maybe being heartbroken is the only real way to live. Maybe being heartbroken is a blessing. Maybe the only mistake we make is to try to fill the crack in our hearts rather than letting medicine sorely needed for others to flow out of it. 

Maybe what is most needed is to come to trust ourselves again. I think this society fosters so much secret self loathing where we are ashamed of everything that is real about us – our bodies, our gender, our sexual orientation, our feelings, our needs and our desires. And I think there are other ways we can look at life that are more real and life affirming.

And perhaps, by speaking of our own struggles, we can make it more normal to do so and thus help people feel less alone. 

Perhaps what is most needed is some deep compassion for ourselves and how flawed even our best efforts inevitably are

Of all the things that feel true about the world today (and many of our personal lives) is that we, our communities and our planet are being pushed right to the edge and watching, helplessly, as so much comes apart and to an end. In his remarkable book Why the World Doesn’t End: Tales of Renewal for Times of Loss, Michael Meade speaks eloquently to the importance of the these intense times where it feels like everything is falling apart and ending in our lives, 

 

‘The meaning of the word “end” might seem obvious and conclusive; yet root meanings reveal “tailings” and “remnants” and “that which is left over”… [it] carries the sense that the current state cannot continue and that it is too late for things to simply be repaired. In order for things to change in a meaningful way, many things must come to and end. As archetype of radical change, [it] presents a pattern in which a shattering of forms occurs before the world as we know it can be reconstituted. In the cosmic turn around if enough endings can be found, things can begin again… When the end seems near, ancient and lasting things are also close and waiting to be discovered… What we find at the end are both last things and things that last… Chaos not only describes the way that things fall apart at the end, but also the original state from which all creation continually arises… In the end, all we can offer the world is the life we came here to live and the gifts our soul would have us give. When the end seems near, genuine security can only be found in taking the kind of risks that lead to a greater sense of life and a more encompassing way of being in the world… Great crises and impossible demands often provoke hidden resources and reveal hints of the hidden wholeness and unity of life. The threat of collapse and utter loss can provoke a deeper sense of wholeness where nothing but total involvement and whole-heartedness will work… this capacity for great vision and imagination tends to awaken only after other approaches have failed.”

  

 What follows is a piece I wrote on suicide a few months ago.

 

The Shattered Stone of Loss & The Terrible Gift of Suicide

 Our community has experienced so many suicides recently. 

And, like most people, I find myself at a complete loss of what to do about it but with a desire to talk about it. 
 
These are the thoughts that have come to me over the past week. I hope they are of use to you.
 
When people commit suicide it is, in an important way, a terrible gift to the community. 
 
The trouble is, I think, that we don’t know what to do with it. 
 
But, to understand suicide as a gift, I think we need to have a very different lens on not only suicide but struggle and illness of all kinds. 
 
In her book, Entering the Ghost River, Deena Metzer contrasts indigenous and western perspectives of healing. 
 
In a Western view, if someone gets cancer, it’s an isolated, biological event.
 
From a holistic point of view, if someone gets cancer, it’s an isolated mind, body and spirit event. 
 
From an Indigenous point of view, if someone gets cancer, it is more likely to be seen as a symptom not only of what’s going on in the mind, body and spirit of the one with the disease, but a deeper issue in the community.  
 
What if cancer wasn’t just seen as something going on for the person in the hospital but that the whole community had cancer? What if we considered the way that environmental toxins, a polluted food chain and the stresses of our modern lifestyle contributed to it? What if we looked, metaphorically, at cancer and considered how the way it operates in the body might be exactly how our society has become (e.g. over consumptive, greedy etc.) What if cancer was a sort of spirit that had entered the community and manifests itself through the most vulnerable link in community? That the cancer is everywhere but it just happens to be showing up through certain people?
 
And what if this was true about suicide too?
 
What if the trouble is not only that we are losing so many beautiful, bright and young ones to suicide but that our whole culture is infected with this spirit of suicide. What if our culture is a suicidal one? It doesn’t take much digging to see where this might be true. What does it say of a culture that it is actively destroying its landbase, the oceans and constantly increasing its speed? David Korten calls our current economy ‘the Suicide Economy’ for a reason. It’s not the quick suicide of an overdose or a jump from a bridge… but what if our culture was in the midst of a slow suicide – following some poorly understood pull towards death?
 
What if reckless behaviour was a sign that we were no longer valuing life? And this is, perhaps, a critical point. Not just that we don’t seem to value our own lives as deeply as we could but that we don’t value Life itself. And what if this lack of valuing life was at the heart of the suicidal pull?
 
How do we not value our lives?
 
We eat food we know is terrible for us, drink too much, do too many drugs, work in jobs we hate, stay in relationships where we know we’re settling, we let others walk over us (or we walk all over others). We make pleasing our boss, family of friends more important than following our heart and being true to ourselves. Most of us, if we’re really honest, don’t value ourselves. We don’t make time to take care of ourselves or others in the ways we feel we should. 
 
How do we not value Life?
 
Look at our economy. As a culture, we clearly value economic growth over everything. Money matters so much more to us than Life. 
 
And this brings us to the terrible gift of suicide – it is the reminder of how little we, as a culture, value life. And it is expressing itself through these poor people – the canaries in the mineshaft of our culture – the first to be killed by the effluence of our toxic culture.
 
This is the gift – the wake up call meant not just for the family and closest friends – but for all of us.
 
When someone chooses to kill themselves, they give us this terrible gift.
 
But it’s not a very good gift. It is terrible in a few ways. The first way it’s terrible is the most obvious – we have lost someone we deeply care about and our hearts are broken wide open. The second way it’s terrible is not as obvious. 

When people suffer, it is like a stone in their heart. And, over time, this stone grows and grows. Every kind word, from themselves or others, washes some of it away. And every unkind word, from themselves or others, makes it grow. By the time people take their lives, the stone has become so impossibly heavy that they can’t carry it anymore. This is the stone of their unexpressed grief.

And this is  culture that has no real idea of how to deal with the inevitable, unstoppable and overwhelming force of grief.

 

“You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away. But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realizing this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude. Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.” – Jeff Foster

 

The following video, the first part of an audio recording of Martin Prechtel’s speech on Grief & Praise can be watched below. You can also watch Part 2 and Part 3
 

 
When someone kills themselves, it is as if their spirit takes this stone of their unexpressed grief and breaks it into pieces. One piece for everyone it has known. The more love there was between them, the bigger the piece of that stone. And then, it carries all of those stones to those people. 
 
And these stones are heavy. Where there was the most love, there is the most weight. 
 
And this weight is what we are all left with. And, when you are given a big stone like this, you start to realize how many others are also carrying around these stones too. You learn empathy for people. And that’s part of the gift of any tragedy. 
 
But this weight can drag us down and exhaust us as we carry this stone throughout the rest of our life. And for some, if they are given too much weight, break. They simply can’t bear the weight of too many stones or even one stone that is too heavy. 
 
This is why it is such a terrible gift to leave behind to others. When someone chooses to kill themselves they aren’t, of course, thinking of this. They don’t know what their spirit is about to do to the ones they love most. They think, mistakenly, that they are the burden on their loved ones. But the real burden is the one their spirits are going to deposit in the hearts of their loved ones when they die. 
 
And there are two very important things here.
 
The first is to know that, if you are thinking of taking your life, there is another alternative. You think removing yourself from the world so you are no longer a burden to others (and, sometimes we are burdens to others, lets be real) is the best gift we can give. But there is a better gift. A much greater and more beautiful gift. And the gift is to collect all of those stones, the stones that represent our struggles and pain that are so heavy to carry, and to build something beautiful with them. Instead of jumping off of a bridge, you could use the stones of your own struggle to build a bridge with your life so that, when you die a good death later on, the bridge will be left behind and allow others to cross over some treacherous part of the river of life. That is a good gift. Instead of killing yourself with pills because life feels so pointless, you could build a beautiful temple to something you find beautiful that will be left behind for the community when you go.  That is a good gift. 
 
When you die, these stones will be what is left behind in your community. Your gift will either be a terrible or a wonderful one. 
 
But here is the second important thing.
 
That we are left to carry this heavy stone when someone kills themselves is obvious. 
 
What is not so obvious is that we have no idea what to do with them as a culture. And the lack of knowledge about how to deal with this is another expression of how far gone our culture has become. That we don’t know what to do with it is deeply connected to the high prevalence of it in the first place. If we were a culture who knew how to grieve well (and thus were full of the praise of Life), we would not see the rates of suicide we have today. 
 
The call of loss and grief is to become more eloquent, outspoken and passionate in our praise of life. To praise what we have not yet lost. To grieve well what we have lost. The soil of death giving birth to life. The grief of loss gives birth to a greater capacity to celebrate what’s alive. The cradle of our appreciation of our lives and they lives of others is the knowledge that they will end one day too. 
 
We don’t know what to do with these stones. 
 
Or rather, we think we do, but we are mistaken.
 
We think we are supposed to carry them alone for the rest of our lives. And this is a part of the sickness of our culture. The same individualism that has us think we need to carry them ourselves in some stoic, quiet, long suffering way is the very same individualism that has us see illness as an isolated event. 
 
What we’re meant to do is to come together again as a community to build something beautiful in the praise of life with these stones of our loss. The heaviest stones are the foundation. They are the corner stones and hold the place of most honour. We are supposed to come together to build something so beautiful that others see it and the love of life is sparked in them again. We are not supposed to carry them around by ourselves for the rest of our lives. No one is strong enough for that.

And what we so profoundly lack as a culture are rituals and understandings of how to do that. 

This is the healing. The tragedy borne of isolation and our silo’d off lives is the terrible gift we are given that is supposed to prompt us to reweave our community together and to weave it in more closely with the larger community of life. These stones are not there to drive us deeper into our caves but to bring us together to build something that not only honours who has been lost but Life itself. 
 
If you are able to build something beautiful with the stones of your suffering with your life, it is a gift to the community.
 
If we are able to build something beautiful with the stones of the loss of others, it is a gift to the community. And a gift to our Ancestors. I think that when we build something beautiful from the stones of the loss of them, we give them a home they can inhabit. I think they still need us very much for their own healing. Their ghosts don’t linger to haunt us, but to be healed by us. They don’t linger to pull us down but to urge us to come together to build something beautiful that can help heal the collective illness that afflicted them.
 
So many of us talk about the need to create a new culture. And what do we build it from? These stones of grief and loss. They are the same stones with which we can build good things full of the praise of life. Their spirit brings us these pieces to build something new out of them. 
 
Their inability to resolve their pain before death is not them turning on the future . . . but , rather, turning to the future in search of what they could not find on their own. They pass on their most burdensome scars of pain to the future not to cause harm, but to bring about the healing that they could not accomplish themselves. We heal it in our own hearts and by coming together as a community. 
 
Suicide is a terrible gift. But it is still a gift. My prayer is that, as a culture, we learn to understand the call of it. May all of our lives build something of lasting beauty, may all of our words be full of the praise of Life, may everything we do pour honey into the hearts of others.
 
“There will be much celebration, in the coming weeks and months, of Robin Williams’ life and career. But perhaps the best tribute to him would be if we all reached out to the troubled people in our lives and let them know that we are here for them. Because Robin Williams was there for us.” – Paul F. Tompkins

 

 
 

About Tad

  • across theuniverse

    A beautiful piece, thank you.

  • Maienkind

    Thank you, for being so painfully honest and vulnerable and thought provoking.

  • Claire

    Thank you, Tad for these passionate, illuminating words. It’s so true, we’re numb around suicide because we only dimly sense that it’s not an isolated event to do with someone else, but cries out to our collective awareness of what we’ve become and what there is still time for us to be.

  • Karen Wan

    I love you wrote here. Beautifully said. I was talking to a friend yesterday who said that he doesn’t normally doesn’t pay attention to celebrity deaths, but Robin Williams was different. He felt deeply sad about this loss. Taking his life left a big stone for us to carry. I have watched many commentators talk about his demons and disorders, none of that is comforting or helpful because it leaves all the onus on dealing with his pain to himself. I believe that what you are saying is more healing and helpful. Our culture is so cruel and disconnected in many ways. Robin Williams work pointed towards that insanity, and we needed him. He often healed us, and it’s such a loss to have one of our great healers to take his life. As you write, this can be a gift, if we go deep enough to see our suicidal culture and do something about changing it. The village idea feels right to me too.

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and vulnerability around this subject. Robin Williams death is having a profound impact on me and bringing up a lot of questions. When Kurt Cobain committed suicide it was hardly a surprise it goes with the rest of his depressed persona, but Robin Williams is a shock and a reminder of how well people may hide their suffering. Our culture as a whole is deeply suffering, some take their own lives to put an end to the inner torment, others numb it with legal and or illegal substances and habits.

    I was having a conversation with a friend who is struggling emotionally and although she has refused the idea of medication in the past she is strongly considering it to get out of the slump she is in. This is no isolated case antidepressants are high up on the list of prescriptions that are given out daily. Ironically no one really talks about it, a taboo subject that is only shared amongst ones closest trustworthy friends. For some reason I attract people to open up and trust me with their “secret”. I look around discouraged, sad and perplexed… No one talks about it, a friend in my town actually goes to another town to fill her prescription as she does not want anyone to know, yet I sit witnessing countless people around me on antidepressants.

    As everyone goes on ashamed, alone and numbed out on a pill, no one is asking WHY, why are so many needing a daily dose to get through life, why the increasing rate of people unhappy, unmotivated, strung out with anxiety and/or burn out. This is not what life should be about.

    There is a huge disconnect as we walk through life with a mask to avoid being a nuisance, looking weak or worrying people with our issues. There is something terribly wrong and it’s time we start talking about it. I deeply suspect the lack of community resulting in isolation, like you mention the village idea would be extremely helpful.

    Healing needs to happen on a much deeper level that any pill can offer, we need connection to ourselves, to our community, to nature and to spirit. Change our ways our perspective our thoughts and habits to ones that nourish instead of deplete so we can experience life in all it’s shades with joy and ease and be thankful for the miracle that is life. Why are we humans making things so difficult?

    All this to say that Robin William’s death is violently getting me in touch with my WHY, my life’s calling, the work I am here to do that I have been hiding and running from for so long.

  • thank you

  • only possible because others did it for me.

  • may we come to see it for what it is

  • i am more and more drawn to this idea of a village.

  • <3

  • Marissa Loewen

    Thank you Tad. This is beautiful. I have also lost a few friends this year to suicide and I am profoundly scrambling to think what could I have done differently to prevent it but know that it wasn’t necessarily for me to prevent anything. I think I am realizing that I need to raise my voice and help be that change to a more responsible world of marketing, business ethics and intentional consumerism. I need to raise my voice towards my friends and family who can be going through this (whether I know they are or not) and I need to raise my voice that I am one of these souls who has wrestled with the decision myself at times.

    I see your reference of stones as very meaningful.

    I carry the weight of my own stone and instead of letting it sink me in that river, I’ll lay it down so that it may be part of a bigger bridge for others to use to get to the other side safely.

  • thanks marissa. there’s just so much needed in this. and this world will be a bit better with you as a coach! i can’t wait.

  • Briana_Barrett

    Oh, Tad, you’re so precious to me. I love you for leading with your beautiful wounds, and your beautiful vision of us all representing each a need behind a feeling. I see your vibrant invitation as such: Behind each wound and pain, there is a job to be done, a rally to be cried, a bridge or house or community to be built and stewarded – and some are businesses. All of them are Village work.

    Is this me following you right? It sounds like your year has been extra hard because of you and your community/ties having lost several members to burdens that are not bearable by individuals, and are hard on communities, too!

    I am so moved by your shares, Tad, and the sanity it takes to find the gift in the terrible. The 3 videos you linked to moved me to tears, to keening, complete with Joy and Despair at the formlessness of drastic change. Years ago, it took personal grief for me to realize that my Village might already be there, might exist, and might be willing to carry me anywhere, but that my low trust in it was my disease – and not my disease alone. Trust, if low or misplaced, can be a throttle on support. I have learned since committing to his work that there is a lot more to building trust than meets the eye!

    I wonder, Tad, whether your community/ies have found ways to bring liquidity and movement to reverse the petrification of these pains? Continuing with the work at hand? Special rituals? Regular ones done with more meaning and depth? And I’ll expand the pallet by asking about perhaps the most effective, most invisible thing, too: tiny lifestyle tweaks and commitments to habits that make room for humanness, make conviviality everyday, that make time for shared touch, voice, and silence? Something else?

    I don’t mean to pry. Thank you for all you’ve shared. You have shared so well of the *attitude* behind any effective response, I would actually like it if you told me you’ll leave it at that and not tell me details of how your community copes. And you know Village is my passion. It is for a reason: I would feel so comforted imagining what the one(s) around you, do and have done to build trust that each matters, that we’re all special and normal to need each other. How do you remind each other, I wonder.

    Namaste, Tad, with deep love.
    (and pardon me: a more succinct post was lost logging in to Disqus)

  • hey you,

    thank you. i think, like most communities, ours is still working on it finding ways to cope. it is, indeed, daunting. and a joy to be a part of.

  • Beautiful….thank you. I have had to stand by and watch a 16 year-old family member live with dark thoughts of suicide for 12 months and be a witness to repeated failed NHS treatment and also feel unable to introduce another way because of the walls put up around in my family. The only way I can connect and plant hope in his young bones is to draw pictures for him as an adventurer on a journey with bad guys and good guys etc…I do believe it has helped him a little as I receive the ;) from time-to-time.
    Very touching and heart-felt post. I have disappeared a bit the last few months, so I just wanted to say, I do hope you are feeling much better now…

  • <3

  • lisamanyon

    Tad, As usual your soul exudes a depth that only those who are truly doing their own work will ever understand. ? Thank you for sharing, for being and for making a difference.

  • thank you lisa <3

  • Zola de Firmian

    true words. thank you.

  • In 1995, my son took his life. His death took a large chunk of my life too. To survive the loss, I wrote. For days, and then weeks, and ultimately, for years, I wrote to make sense of the pieces. When the book was published, I started a nonprofit for suicide prevention and awareness. Robin Williams had it “all” on the surface, but his pain was also the fuel to his gift. Those of us who grieve, are blessed with a depth of love that some will never experience. The gift (the Blessings in the Mire) is the bright spotlight that shines in a dark corner where most fear to look. We must look. We must acknowledge the truth that millions are suffering, and if our light helps save even one human, our purpose has been great. Thanks for this profound piece. I look forward to more of your posts.

  • Binky Mendoza

    thank you, tad <3

  • <3

  • Stephen Connor

    Hi Tad,
    Sometimes you can be honourable touched by someone, by their journey, by their passion and by their words. You have touched me deeply my friend. You are open, transparent, vulnerable and much more. We are heading down similiar paths and you have inspired me.
    Our pain and suffering are opportunites to be more and grow. Pain is inevitable but suffering can be a choice.
    Today was a down day. I kept comming up with reasons why my work is not worth it but thankfully I found you and your work. After I finish this post I will continue with my goals with passion. We don’t have the right to hold back what the world needs, the voice of our hearts. http://www.stephenconnor.org
    Thanks again dear friend, Steve.

  • Sending you big love Stephen. Good to have you still here and still contributing.