In February 2017, Chester Bennington and his band of Linkin Park’ers wrote and released the widely popular “Heavy”. Nominated for the “Teen Choice Award for Choice Rock Song”, it’s lyrical inspiration came from the bands own frustrations and troubles with life. The lyrics go something like this:
I don’t like my mind right now, stacking up problems that are so unnecessary. Wish that I could slow things down, I wanna let go but there’s comfort in the panic.
And I drive myself crazy, thinking everything's about me.
Yeah, I drive myself crazy, ’cause I can’t escape the gravity.
I'm holding on, why is everything so heavy?
Holding on, so much more than I can carry.
I keep dragging around what's bringing me down; if I just let go, i'd be set free.
On the 20th of July, 2017, Chester set himself free. The world lost a legend to suicide by hanging. Of all the celebrity deaths over the years, Chester’s hit me the hardest. A huge fan of Linkin Park, I can’t imagine my iPod without their next musical gem. But my greater sadness: he was a family man, a father to six, a husband and an ex-husband.
The purpose here is not to question the right or wrong of Chester’s actions. For the most part, we can all agree that there were less damaging and more available options. As we pray that his soul may rest in peace and his family may grieve with grace, this most unfortunate of events brings up important questions. So many questions. How do we as fathers and husbands deal with and help our brood deal with life?
Are we proactively battling our own demons? Are we raising emotionally balanced children, and if not, are we raising our sons and daughters with the strength to ask for help? Are we supporting our wives with their burdens? Have we imparted the archaic principles of manliness, believing that seeking assistance is a form of weakness? Is crying only for girls? Is therapy the beginning of madness?
There will come a time, time and again, where life isn't what we hoped it to be. Where letting go of baggage isn't as easy as checking-in for a flight. Our cars aren't as expensive, homes aren't as big, and savings aren't as bling. How are we teaching our children to take life in their stride? Is life letting them down or is it just a part of living?
In the 1946 book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl a former concentration camp inmate beautifully stated: "…everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
But as we choose our own attitudes, it is our earthly responsibility to impart the right ones. To raise children that know its ok to fall. To raise children that know it’s safe to seek a helping hand. That taking a step in the right direction is a sign of strength.
Death is inevitable. Nothing is certain but death and taxes. But, when our emotional and mental health tax us to an extreme, we must question their inevitability and evaluate the foundation on which we raise our children.