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With the death of Robin Williams, the world lost a blessing. For years, he made us laugh and, goodness knows, with all the heartache out there, we need to laugh. Robin Williams brought much needed joy into our very broken world. But, sadly, we learned this week that behind his comedy, his personal life was filled with so much pain. While we knew about his struggles with addiction, most of us were not aware of his battle with depression which had to have made his attempts to live a life of sobriety even more challenging. We were also not aware that Williams was struggling with Parkinson’s Disease, which, in addition to affecting movement and speech, causes depression. How overwhelming this must have been for a man who battled mental illness while defining himself by his incredible ability to use his words and his body to make us laugh. We were also not aware that Williams was, despite his fame and success, reportedly facing significant financial troubles and was questioning his own professional accomplishments. It was all too much for Williams who took his own life this week.

While it is so tragic that a man who blessed us with laughter has taken his own life, we pray that his memory – which now includes both the laughter and the sorrow – only serves as a blessing. Of course, it is easy to see how his comedy will continue to be a blessing for generations to come. I dare anyone to watch Mrs. Doubtfire and not laugh. As for his mental, physical illnesses, financial and personal struggles, Williams’ tragic death has sadly given the world new insight into depression, addiction, Parkinson’s, debt and self-doubt. Yes, even someone as funny, talented and successful as Robin Williams can struggle with darkness. His death has filled us all with pain – but, hopefully, it will encourage us to reach out to those in our lives who are struggling with darkness and offer our support and strength. In this way, we will insure that Robin Williams’ memory only serves as a blessing.

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