Sunday Sensations: An Open Letter to Chester Bennington

On July 20th, the frontman for the band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington committed suicide.  As someone who felt so very personally connected to his music, I wanted to dedicate this month’s column to him. While Bennington had always been open about his struggles with addiction and depression, it was a shock to everyone (including myself). 

Dear Chester,

I know you can’t really read this letter now. Nor do I harbor the delusion that if this letter would have been written sooner and read it that it would have saved you. I grieve for your loss in such a way that I need to express the impact you made on my life. I hope it may help someone else.

I remember in vivid detail the first time I contemplated suicide when I was in high school. One day I was sitting in the bathroom, looking at a bottle of bleach under the sink, and the thought occurred to me. I didn’t have a terrible childhood. My parents loved me, I had a strong support system and I was extremely happy. I didn’t know where the thought had come from and I tried to move on from it.

I knew about depression as a young adult, but never thought it applied to me. Again, I had so much going for me. College was some of the best times of my life, but I was depressed. There was a weight to things that I couldn’t explain. Some days everything felt so hard. Even if I had reasons to be happy, I wasn’t. It wasn’t until I wrote a paper for a grad school class that it occured to me that I might be depressed. I can’t even remember the focus of the paper, but I remember my professor wrote in the margin of it, “do you think you may be depressed?”

My life took a crazy nose dive after that grad school paper moment. My relationship with my family was terrible, I lost a boyfriend, and everything felt terrible. Sorrow closed in all around me. I nearly lost my job because I couldn’t function. I couldn’t tell you the number the times I thought of suicide. I felt so alone. So lost. At the darkest moment, I found Linkin Park’s music. Suddenly, there was a voice and words to describe exactly how I felt. I was no longer alone. Your music was an oasis when everything felt so hard.

Depression lies, but music heals. I firmly believe that God gave mankind music because it has such a powerful effect on us. The right song, the right time can mean the difference between life and death. There have been so many times where music has given me words when I felt like I had no voice. I quickly put you on the list of my all-time favorite singers. Linkin Park was not the kind of music I’d normally listen to, but I listened over and over again.

While your music wasn’t the only thing that pulled me out of my depression, it helped more than I could ever say. Your pain eased mine.

Over 12 years later and Linkin Park became a back burner thought. I had no idea there was a new album. I was wrapped up in my own life. When news came of your suicide I cried. I had no idea the struggles you had gone through. Tender strings were severed so very early for you. Very few things can repair that damage.

I still have some bouts with depression. Days where staying in bed is the only thing I can do. Other days where the only feeling I can feel is not caring. I don’t know your pain, but I know how pain works. It’s not easy.

One of those new songs, “One More Light” has the following lyrics:

Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars,
It flickers, flickers.
Who cares when someone’s time runs out,
If a moment is all we are?
We’re quicker, quicker.
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do.

I cared. You helped me and I cared. I’m sorry your light went out. I hope you know it meant something while it was burning.

About the author: Tabitha Grace Challis

Tabitha Grace ChallisTabitha is a social media strategist, writer, blogger, and professional geek. Among her published works are the children’s books Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and Machu the Cat is Very Hungry, both published under the name Tabitha Grace Smith. A California girl (always and forever) she now lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a collection of cats, dogs, and chickens. Find out more about her on her Amazon author page or follow her on Twitter: @Tabz.