Why?

FI-EditorialWhat do we do when grief hits us? Especially when it comes in such an unexpected way and combines with shock to leave us all feeling numb.

There was an outpouring of love and pain and absolute disbelief this week when Oscar winner and comedian Robin Williams killed himself. We never imagined that his comedy and zest for performing could mask such immense pain that he saw no other way to find escape. But, save for the people in town who crossed his path while he was filming a movie here, we didn’t know Robin Williams. He was just Mork from Ork or the shrink from Good Will Hunting or, to a dedicated cult audience, Rainbow Randolph or many of the other unforgettable parts he played.

We did know Emily Fedorko. We didn’t all literally know who she was, but she was from Greenwich. She was one of us. She was a bright young girl full of life and energy and passion. At 16, she hadn’t even chosen yet where she was going to go to college. The future was there for the taking and the possibilities seemed endless for her. But she was taken from her family and her friends and everyone who knew and loved her by a senseless accident.

As we try to make some kind of sense about the death of a beloved entertainer ravaged by the relentlessness of depression, it makes even less sense to see a girl who wasn’t even close to the prime of her life taken so unexpectedly. None of this should have happened. None of it is fair. None of it is right. So, what happens now?

There’s no easy answer for that. Not for Emily’s family or friends, whose lives will never be the same. There are no magic words to make everything better. You’re left saying “I’m sorry” because there’s nothing more you can think of to say and the grief here seems so enormous that words completely fail us.

We are a society that loves to have all the answers, especially when the question is “why?” It’s getting harder and harder to simply take things on faith. We need to know what happened and why it did. And when we can’t get those answers, the frustration grows, feeding our grief and our fear and making the pain seem even worse.

Grief can seem endless. It’s why we are so afraid to feel. Pain is the rawest of emotions because it comes from the best kind of things when we lose something or someone we love. That means we don’t even have to know Emily to picture the horror of imagining what her family and loved ones are going through. That means we don’t even have to have met someone like Robin Williams to want to cry when you dust off your copies of Aladdin or Dead Poet’s Society.

Losing people we are attached to, no matter if we knew them or simply knew of them, is always awful. It leaves us vulnerable and afraid. But there are always ways out. There’s family you can talk to. There are professionals to talk to that specialize in this. Maybe posting on social media will make you feel better. Maybe it’s yelling until your voice is hoarse. No matter what it is, there is a way.

The randomness of the accident that killed Emily or seeing someone haunted by depression so severe they take their own life will never truly make sense. But do not bottle up your pain. There are people who can help with your grief and those who are there for people suffering from depression, an insidious disease that strikes you in Greenwich, in Hollywood or anywhere.

We may never know why but we do know that help is out there for people who need it.

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