Mourning Our Heroes; When Tragedy Strikes the Artists That Influenced Us

               I was at work when I read the news about Chester Bennington’s suicide. At first I didn’t want to believe it was true. Maybe it was a cruel joke or a really messed up example of the “fake news” that we’ve heard about so much lately. What brought the truth of it home to me was Mike Shinoda’s tweet: “Shocked and heartbroken, but it’s true. An official statement will come out as soon as we have one.”

                That tweet made Chester’s death real.

                Now, let me clarify something. I love Linkin Park, but I am not by any means a super fan; I don’t live and die by their tour dates and I don’t have their lyrics or faces or album art tattooed on my skin. I wasn’t really into Chester’s other projects such as his band Death by Sunrise or his stint as the front man of Stone Temple Pilots.

                So then why am I so broken up about his death?

                With Chester’s passing, I did what most do when they are in shock and mourning: I began bringing up things I’d almost forgotten about them; in my instance, the memories I had of him and his music. Hybrid Theory came out when I was in high school. The entire album was the anthem to those confusing, hectic years. Linkin Park was the voice that expressed the emotions I buried deep inside. They were the outlet I and so many others needed to express what was in our hearts. They had the courage to say what we were all afraid to say. They made us feel not so alone.

                The real tragedy was that we could not return the favor.

                There have been a lot of celebrity deaths lately. 2016 was notorious for its body count. 2017 has also had its fair share of devastation. There are varying degrees of mourning for each one that leaves us. For some reason, Chester’s is registering pretty high with me. The only other time I’ve felt this way about a celebrity death was Robin Williams. There are still some of his movies I am not brave enough to watch because I know I will just break. Robin also was a victim of suicide and the world mourned his passing.

                The question remains. Why do celebrity deaths impact us so intensely?

                I have a theory. These artists, these actors, personalities, singers, songwriters, authors, all of these glorious people have been there for us during the most pivotal times in our lives. We’ve built lifetimes of memories around their art, their songs, their movies, their stories. So much so that they’ve become part of us. What they created rang true in our hearts— like an echo of ourselves mirrored in someone else. Something like that makes you feel connected, makes you feel not so alone.

                It’s natural then, when tragedy strikes and the worst happens that we mourn. Yes, we are sad that they have passed, but we are also mourning a part of ourselves.

                With Chester’s passing, I am mourning the passing of someone who was there for me when I was an emotional wreck of a teenager. I am mourning the part of me that identified with and was saved by his music. When someone affects so many lives, it is hard not to feel something at their death. It’s hard not to remember a certain song, a certain part, or a certain phrase that they created that rang true in your soul. My deepest condolences to his family, his friends, his band mates, and to all of his fans. I share in your grief.

                If you are struggling with depression, if you are about to give up, please talk to someone. The national suicide hotline number is: 1-800-273-8255. You are too precious to lose.