The Fans Keeping The Legacy Of Chester Bennington Alive
One year on from Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington's death, his fans are keeping his legacy alive with #MakeChesterProud.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Chester Bennington's death.
In the wake of his loss, Mike Shinoda launched the hashtag #MakeChesterProud, encouraging fans to channel their grief into doing "something great / kind / generous" in Chester's memory.
Originally an idea borrowed from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, whose husband died unexpectedly in 2015, the #MakeChesterProud hashtag took off, quickly becoming a place for fans to lift one another up, offer support, advice and encouragement, and to bond together as a global family.
Despite being 11 months old, the hashtag continues to be populated daily by countless Linkin Park fans -- as well as Mike Shinoda, his wife Anna Shinoda, and Chester's wife Talinda Bennington -- all sharing the ways they're working to make Chester’s legacy live on through them.
My own #MakeChesterProud story is far from isolated, so here are just a few of those stories:
July 2017 was definitely the hardest and most painful part of my life so far. I was going through a hard breakup, a friend had died a week later, and it all topped off with Chester passing away.
Being a part of the Linkin Park community for so long -- I’m one of the admins of LPLive, a large Linkin Park fansite -- I knew that when Chester passed I wasn’t the only one in pain.
We started our mission to help the community by opening up our DMs on the LPLive Twitter, where Mark Terrell (another admin) and I spent hours upon hours responding to heartbroken and lost fans who had no one else to talk to. It was only two of us helping thousands of people, though; it was just impossible for the two of us to handle.
We started the LPLive Discord chat -- Discord is a platform designed for, but not limited to, gaming -- so that instead of individually trying to help and heal with one person, all of us who were hurting could come together and lift each other up.
When I flew out to Los Angeles with my dad to visit a college and see Linkin Park’s celebration of Chester’s life, it was there that I really understood the impact of his life.
Take me, a couple thousand others at the venue, and millions who watched the live stream of the show from their home, and you have a family. From there on, I vowed to live the way Chester did. I want to carry that torch for him, be the next Chester Bennington in my own right.
It’s been a year since Chester passed, and though I’ve come a long way since then, there’s always a little further we can go. I strive to be a better person now.
I showed up in the Discord chat on the second night to get help through the most difficult battle I've had with my depression so far and ended up on the team by the next morning.
It gave me a purpose to hold on to and helped get me through the sleepless nights. It was everything from being a shoulder to lean on, to helping one person figure out how to sign up for health insurance so he could afford mental health care, to providing techniques to pull people out of panic attacks.
There were a lot of people who were suicidal themselves that came through that found comfort in talking about their experiences. I found that eventually, after everyone let all of their grief out, I could subtly shift the conversation to a more positive note and use pictures and gifs to make people smile and laugh, sometimes for the first time since Chester passed. It worked like nothing I've ever experienced before.
I saw it day after day; people finding catharsis in letting everything out then being able to laugh.
Personally, I've just been trying to properly address my mental illnesses and get the right treatment for them.
Talinda Bennington and Anna Shinoda were a vital part of me being able to make that first doctors appointment last September after dealing with crippling agoraphobia and PTSD for nearly 5 years. I almost hate to say it, but I don't think I would be getting the help and treatment I need right now if I hadn't survived that loss.
I have been struggling with depression ever since high school, and for the longest time, I really believed it was only me that was going through this. Then I heard “Crawling” for the first time. It was almost a sense of hope for me to see that there was someone else out there who was struggling with the same issues as me.
Fast forward to when Chester passed. I felt numb and didn't know how to react. I secluded myself. Then I began to see the #MakeChesterProud movement. It was absolutely incredible to see Talinda being such an advocate for mental health. I knew I wanted to help out and be a part of this.
Depression is already a taboo topic of sorts, but it is even worse in the Indian culture. From my past experiences, I felt that if I did try and talk about this, I would just get shut down. That fact alone kept me quiet for so long, until recently.
In February, I contemplated taking my own life, but instead, I opened up to my wife. While she may not have known how to react or what to say, she has helped me open up and start the discussion even more. Because of that, I have encountered many people that are going through the same thing, including close friends and family.
It may have taken me too long to open up and start talking about this, but I guess it is never too late to start. With the more I talk about it, the more I become more comfortable with it. I try to make it a point to reach out on a regular basis to the ones that are struggling like me. While I still am not perfect with reaching out, I am doing my best to #MakeChesterProud.
My heart broke when I heard the news of Chester's passing, but I knew exactly how I was going to pay tribute to him. I always wanted his flame tattoos, but I didn't want to "steal" someone's tattoo, so I didn't do it. After Chester passed away, I felt like I had to do it, for his memory and to remember who I owe my life to.
Chester saved me from myself, and for that, I owe him my life. The tattoo is there to remind me of his life, his successes, to focus me and on my goals in life, and to remind me that I am never alone.
I think with his passing, it brought back everything in my past, including suppressed memories. Things that I was able to get through, because of their music.
As far as what I have been doing to make Chester proud, I was helping people on the Discord server that LPLive created. Beyond that, I’ve also tried to help people on Twitter and on Taylor Swift’s social media app.
I stood up for somebody there, whose posts were being reported and taken down whenever she posted about her mental illness. For the whole month of May, I made posts everyday day including information on mental illness.
At one point, a few months back, I left pieces of paper with a nice message on them, in random books at a bookstore. It’s not much, but I try to do my best every day to make Chester proud.
Linkin Park has been my favorite band since 2001. I was devastated when we lost Chester. To make him proud, I’ve been volunteering a lot of hours at an animal shelter. Not only do I help the animals there, but I give classes to groups of children about pet care and being kind to animals. Chester loved animals too.
I never got to meet Chester, but Mike sometimes spoke about how Chester was always in the gym working out. After his passing, I made it my goal to be in my best possible shape and health in honour of him. It’s been hard to find the strength to work out the closer July 20th gets, but I’m still pushing through.
What I did to #MakeChesterProud was to change the way I look at bad things. I got rid of toxic people, I got rid of my bad habits and replaced most of them with good ones. I spoke about my mental health with my parents and I went to a therapist.
Everything worked well after this.
I've been trying to be more understanding and supportive to people who are struggling.
I have a friend who has recently attempted suicide -- he is doing better now -- my friends and I have really been there for him and showed him that he is really loved. Last year I wouldn't have been able to understand, much less be of any help -- I couldn't see the signs, but now that I know about what happened and I've read so much about mental health (thanks to Talinda) and learned about what to do and what to not do, I don't feel so helpless.
As for what I've been doing for myself, I started making things happen for myself and not just waiting for people to show up and help me. I'm a singer (student) and for a long time I've just been waiting to meet people who have the same interests, but it wasn’t happening.
Now I'm no longer waiting, I'm looking for them. And, even though I don't have any music, I've been writing lyrics about how I feel in different situations and using that as a therapy. The first one I wrote is about Chester and how some people I talked to felt during that first couple of weeks.
My life has similarities to Chester’s; a violent childhood, addiction, and a long fight to do my best to stay alive. When Chester died it was really a shock; my grandpa died the same day 10 years earlier. Since then, I’ve accepted help. I started a therapy and it's the first step of the rest of my life.
I’ve been handing out Cards for Chester. I've gone to mental health centres and spoken to them and handed out cards.
I’ve spoken on ending the stigma around mental health at a women’s domestic violence shelter and to people in my community. I am working every day to Make Chester Proud. Even to tell a stranger they are loved.
My hope is that I can bring some love and light into someone else life and perhaps, it will make a difference to them that day.
I had my battle last year around the same time Chester passed, but in February I walked in knowing I needed help. So I did it on my terms.
I’m a mum of six who battles these demons every day, LP was my outlet, every song made me know someone else felt like me. The way I can make Chester proud is to keep being aware of when I’m heading down before it’s too late.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 000. If you need help and advice, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 . A range of suicide prevention and mental health resources based around the country can be found here.
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity
Feature Image: Getty Images