Goodbye Chandler, you were a good friend
The news of Matthew Perry’s death came as a shock to a generation of fans of the TV sitcom Friends. A similar shock arrives to loved ones who are left to deal with suicide.
Why did Matthew Perry’s death hit some of us hard?
The obvious first response is the actor’s young age. 54 is too young to die. However if you have lived an adult life of depression and addiction, there is an argument that you have been trapped within a mental prison cell. Did Matthew Perry serve 25 years of hard time?
Those close to him may say yes. Hopefully, the public will never be privy to those details, after all, he finally has the right to privacy and eternal rest.
I think we feel the impact of the loss of this famous actor because Matthew’s character represented the reality of what everyone faces — with a side dish of hilarity.
The fact remains, that Matthew Perry’s portrayal of Chandler Bing was fabulously delivered. His comedic timing clearly demonstrated the spectrum of your humanness that includes:
- Wavering confidence
- Ability to speak up
- Capacity to follow your dreams
The Chandler character appealed to the masses because of his human flaws, rather than his perfection. The show’s writers should be commended for creating the perfect, fun-loving goofball. They portrayed the new-age man to a tee. Juvenile most of the time, funny and yet vulnerable and wanting what everyone really wants in life…friends.
But here’s the thing, Our Western society doesn’t really promote befriending yourself.
In reality, the actor battled real-life demons and is quoted as not recollecting three seasons of filming episodes due to substance abuse. Where were his actual friends during this time?
Matthew Perry wasn’t my friend or acquaintance but, he did represent the vulnerable parts of me. I evolved through my early twenties with this show as my neighbour and weekly companion. The character stories were relevant and invoked visceral responses.
I too use goofy banter to distract myself and others when I am not totally confident in a situation. I use humour when the discomfort of big feelings arises.
I too adore the simplicity of reclining into a leather couch with mates, sharing deep and meaningful banter with my besties. Like the character, I can share more of my true self when my body is comfortable.
I demonstrate my affection with big hugs and fart jokes. The characters of Chandler and Joey, and their escapades capture how most of us lived in our twenties. Simple. Cheap. And most importantly taking the piss out of each other.
So why does society love the goofy funny guy?
Humour is used as a blanket. Humour hides emotional pain and suffering and allows us to pretend when our human treadmill feels hard.
The art of portraying Chandler, through his literal and physical battle with depression and weight gain, was courageous. Matthew Perry showed up even though he probably hated every second of being seen publicly. He was doing the work to survive when so many simply checked out.
Perhaps his friends were present, behind the scenes, cheering him on. Perhaps that is why he lasted so long inside the depression prison.
The Friend’s sitcom resonates with us all of that age because the script reenacted our real-life drama and chaos. Our humanness isn’t perfect. Things don’t always work out. There are highs and lows. Some values and beliefs differ but an understanding that it is our differences that compliment our relationships.
The real takeaway is if you have real friends then you are the richest person in the world.
If you value your loved ones, check in on them. The question “Are you OK?” isn’t something you should ask once a year. It’s something you must ask every time you have encounters. The rate of suicide is rising because people feel isolated and alone. A simple conversation may just save someone you love.
I hope Matthew Perry can now rest those demons that he battled. I hope his friends can smile whilst sharing fond memories.
Matthew Perry’s death reminds me (and I hope you do too) to make the effort to connect with your mates as often as possible and fill your cup. Regardless of whether you call them friends, mates or even your tribe, our humanness dictates we need them in our lives. I hope you’ve found yours.
We all live and die. What makes life meaningful is what we do with it between those two milestones — good and bad- and who we share that journey with. Hopefully, you’re sharing your experiences with others.
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Karen Humphries is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, LEAP & NES Practitioner, Intuitive Meditation Facilitator, and published author. She is a self-confessed laughaholic. She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’