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Reflections prompted by Matthew Perry’s life and death

Actor Matthew Perry

Rena Schild | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 10/30/23

With the tragic death of the 'Friends' star, we think these are some key meaningful lessons to be drawn for fans and non-fans alike.

Millions were left in shock at the announcement of Matthew Perry’s death October 28. The 54-year-old actor had notched up an impressive fan base for his role as the Chandler Bing, the popular Friends character notorious for his wit, sarcasm, but overall kindness.

In real life Perry struggled with alcohol and opioid addiction — something the actor detailed in his refreshingly frank memoir,Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, as shared by the Daily Mail:

Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead… People would be surprised to know that I have mostly been sober since 2001. Save for about sixty or seventy little mishaps over the years.”

Perry’s death has caused an outpouring of love from his fans. He gave so much pleasure from his on-screen appearances; now his life and untimely death have prompted the following five reflections:

It’s okay to be vulnerable

Throughout a lot of his acting career, Perry was battling with his addictions. Although his fans were not aware of all the details until his memoir was published, by opening up about his struggles people were able to see the real man behind the happy-go-lucky Chandler Bing.

Sometimes in our darker moments we might put on a brave face and smile to the world. But in sharing our hardships we can often gain strength and friendship.

Never give up

In his memoir Perry also talked about the incredible number of times he’d been to rehab, the number of times he’d tried to detox — and failed — and also the number of surgeries he endured as a result of his addiction. These accounts are certainly not for the faint of heart. Yet what resonates throughout his memoir is that he didn’t give up. He chose to consistently fight for a better life.

always Reach out in prayer

When Perry was in a state of desperation, he poignantly wrote how he’d reached out to God, and how God had answered. Below are snippets of the account that can be found in pages 322–330 of his book:

“’God, please help me,’ I whispered.

‘Show me that you are here. God, please help me.’”

As I kneeled, the light slowly began to get bigger, and bigger, until it was so big that it encompassed the entire room…What was happening? And why was I starting to feel better?

I started to cry. I mean, I really started to cry — that shoulder-shaking kind of uncontrollable weeping. I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I was crying because for the first time in my life, I felt OK. I felt safe, taken care of.

Decades of struggling with God, and wrestling with life, and sadness, all was being washed away, like a river of pain gone into oblivion. I had been in the presence of God. I was certain of it. And this time I had prayed for the right thing: help.”

Success is not about fame or fortune

Considering the vast wealth and fame that came with his role on Friends, the actor shared in an interview below (at 44:35 minutes) how that was not what he wanted to be remembered for.

“The best thing about me, bar none, is that if somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking, can you help me?’ I can say ‘yes’ and follow up and do it. That’s the best thing… When I die I don’t want Friends to be the first thing that’s mentioned, I want that to be the first thing that’s mentioned.”

Life should never be taken for granted

When famous people die, especially unexpectedly and at a young age, it often serves as a dramatic reminder that life is fleeting, and that we never know how long we will have before God calls us home. In some respects, Perry is a modern-day momento mori – reminding us that we will die, and that we should make the most of the time we have on earth.

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