how to talk to your kids about robin williams’ suicide

Remember, last week, when I described grief as feeling like a sucker punch? Well, sometimes, most of the time, that sucker punch comes out of the blue and this morning was just one of those times.

As I entered the green room at Fox 5 San Diego, and sat down with my fellow “Ask the Moms” panelists to go over the hot topics we were about to discuss on air, I found out that the original articles we had planned on discussing had been tabled in light of Robin Williams’ suicide. Instead, we would be discussing how to talk to our kids about death and suicide.

We’ve talked about tragedies before, and grief too, so I wasn’t shocked to discover the new angle of our segment.

What did shock me, however, was receiving a piece of paper with the tweet written by his daughter Zelda Williams, in response to the death of her father. Literally one sentence in and I was a blubbering mess.

Granted, it’s currently my own personal shark week (in addition to national Shark Week), so I’m particularly emotional today, but whoa, I was not expecting to burst into tears like that.

Yes, I’m deeply saddened by the loss of such a talented, beloved icon who graced our generation with countless memorable characters, but it was that sucker punch of grief that got to me–the memory of what it feels like to be a young daughter in her 20’s facing the world without her dad . . . looking up to the sky and wishing desperately for one more hug, one more “I love you.”

I finally pulled myself together and was somehow able to make it through the segment although, in re-watching it I realized that I took a lot of deep breaths and had to look up to the ceiling a few times to stop the tears.

As soon as the cameras cut, however, I burst back into tears.

Oh, the wicked onslaught of grief tears come at the most unpredictable, inconvenient times!

My heavy heart matches those around the world, as people who knew Robin Williams personally and those who knew him only as a comedic, manic genius who made us belly laugh way too many times to count.

Here is our segment that I hope you will watch if you or someone you know is affected by depression, grief, and/or suicide.

Also, here is a quote from a friend of a friend who manages a suicide hotline, Jennifer Battle (@battle4justice on Twitter), to use when talking to your kids about suicide:

“People die lots of different ways. Most of the time it’s old age, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes people get sick and no matter how much care they get they don’t get better. Sometimes this can happen and people get scared and sad they aren’t better and they decide to kill themselves. We think it’s sad when this happens, but it doesn’t make them a bad person, it just means they were in a lot of pain and they didn’t know what else to do. That’s what makes us sad, because there’s a lot of help out there but sometimes people don’t know where to look.”

This great loss has brought up a mix of emotions in millions of people. If you are one of those people, listen to your body, take care of yourself, and seek help if you need it.

Honoring Robin Williams by sharing the suicide prevention number



  1. 1
    Sherri says:

    I have very mixed emotions on this. As a mother, I can’t fathom what gives you the right to check out on your children like that, but when I view it from a mental illness perspective, I try to understand that that rationalization doesn’t exist.

    I love that you are your authentic self.

  2. 2

    I cried reading that tweet too – and reading it thru your description made me tear up again; i can’t imagine. I’m not one to get really out of sorts over celebrities deaths, but this one just broke me down. Robin Williams. So Young. And the way he went – I tear up for him, i tear up for those he left behind – God knows he tried – he was amazing and I am so sad he had that much pain.

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