I didn’t know Chester Bennington, but I know that millions of people were touched by his music.
I didn’t know Chester Bennington, but I know that he was a gifted man, a creative man, a man who fought through his own demons in order to share his soul with others.
I didn’t know Chester Bennington, but I know he had a family who loved him. I know he had a wife, and I know he had six children who are going to have to continuing growing up without their father.
I didn’t know Chester Bennington, but I know he was only 41… younger than I am right now as I write this… and that he should have had another 40 years on this planet.
I didn’t know Chester Bennington, but I know what it’s like to live with pain. I know what it’s like to be consumed, to be swallowed whole by something that feels out of your control. I know what it’s like to feel like you have no more choices.
I didn’t know Chester Bennington, but I get him. I do.
And every time another brilliant soul is taken by suicide, my heart and my mind collide in such a way that it makes it hard to breathe. I have been there. I get it. And each publicized death chips away another piece of my heart even as my mind tells me, “YOU’RE STILL HERE. Let this be a reminder to you to keep fighting. To hang on. To give it another day.”
Because the thing is, I know that pain. I know what it means to fight demons. I know what it means to be tired. And the insensitive comments blaming the victim? The ones calling him cowardly and selfish? Fuck that. (This is the part where I’d usually apologize for swearing, but not this time. Not when another artist, another father, another human loses his life to suicide.)
Chester Bennington was BRAVE, not cowardly. Every day that he got up, and he faced his pain, and he poured his heart and his soul and his demons into making music so that others would feel less alone, he was brave. Every day that he fought, every single second that he fought, he was brave. And in the end, the illness just won. It didn’t make him cowardly. It didn’t make him selfish. It made him a brave, broken, fallible human. Someone who fought for a long time. Someone facing something terrifying… more terrifying than most can ever imagine. A living nightmare, played out in real time.
I think David Foster Wallace says it best:
The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling….”
Chester Bennington deserves nothing less than our deepest compassion; our sincerest desire for his soul to finally find the peace that it wasn’t able to find on earth.
To Chester, and to all the loved ones he left behind: I see you. And I am so very, very sorry.