Family, Self

Dear Zelda Williams, You Are A Survivor — And So Am I

Robin Williams and Zelda Williams

Dear Zelda,

When I heard the news, I thought of you.

I realize that no amount of consolation or sympathy will make it easier to grieve. But I want you to know that I know what you're going through. I know what you're feeling — overwhelming grief, anger, sadness. You're probably a little numb, too.

You are a survivor.

I, too, am a survivor. My father committed suicide when I was nine.

It's been 13 years since he took his life the day before Easter, and I think about him often. What would it be like if he were still here? Would he be proud of me? I remember his laugh and his eyes, which my family tells me were exactly like mine. The way he wore DIY shorts (jeans with the legs cut off) and his complete disdain for shoes.

But there are a lot of things that I do not remember.

That's where you have an advantage. You have 16 extra years of memories. And you have his work — time capsules of your father doing exactly what he loved. He touched us all with his work. In his movies he's laughing and being silly. That's the best way to remember him because that’s how he wanted to be.

My dad wanted to be happy, too. (Who doesn't?)

It's possible you weren't fully aware of your dad's depression.

I didn't know my father was depressed. I was too young to understand. I never thought twice about why he had his own apartment, or why I couldn't see him all the time. I know now that he wouldn't let me see him on his "low days." And that's the best thing he could've done for me because I only have happy memories.

You have 25 years of great memories! I want you to remember your happy times with your dad. Remember his smile; remember his laugh. Cherish the parts of you that resemble him. And remember that he helped create you. His blood runs through your veins — he will always be with you.

It gets easier, Zelda. Not because you forget, but because — eventually — the grief will not be all consuming.

Being a survivor changes you. The strength that comes from the overwhelming pain of losing a parent to suicide is resilient.

It's difficult not to ask questions like, "Why did he do this?" I imagine it's even more difficult for you since the media continues to throw it in your face. But none of this is your fault. He is in a happier place now. He is free.

You are strong, Zelda. And your daddy loved you.

I remind myself everyday.

My daddy loved me, too.

Note to our readers: If you ever need to talk to someone about depression, please call 1-800-273-8255. Someone will always be on the line. You are loved.