Chris Cornell – Rest in Peace

Chris Cornell, a prolific singer-songwriter died Thursday.

Chris’ death, not unlike that of any other individual at his age was sad news. Unfortunately, the Internet is alive and well with best guesses about his death. He died, one report said he had hanged himself, another that the death might have been either an accidental hanging or an accidental overdose.

I knew of Chris as most others did, through his songwriting. I recall hearing one of the first songs I heard from Chris was the song “Hunger Strike” when he was with Temple of the Dog. I listened to the song lyrics like I did when I was a teenager, replaying the track again and again and again.

I had heard Chris had been troubled by many demons, many of which could be heard through his lyrics. I heard Chris tried to manage those demons with heroin and other drugs and that just before his death an assistant was asked to provide him with two Ativan tablets. This, his family believes was the true cause of Chris’ death.

As a social worker for over 30-years and having spent much of that time as an addiction counselor I was overwhelmed by the sadness of his and the decisions of others to use some type of drug to help manage our feelings. Unfortunately, the one truth which I know is that when we don’t feel we don’t learn to understand our feelings and as a result, we can’t learn to manage those feelings. None of us, I’m fairly certain that’s a correct assumption, don’t like to feel feelings like sad and hurt, fear, loneliness, guilt and shame. These are pretty powerful feelings who many of us didn’t have good mentors to help us navigate. We gravitate like most others to feeling “good.” We learn to do whatever we need to do to “feel good, not feel bad and to not feel pain” both physical and emotional. Unfortunately, the modes of coping which we choose tend to lean toward the unhealthy.

I won’t speculate why Chris died. I will only say that when I see people Chris’ age who have died, I’m just two and one-half years older I feel sad.

To have such a life cut short. I can’t say Chris had an “amazing life” because I don’t know that he did. He had money. He had fame. He had the ongoing adoration of millions of fans and I am sure his family; but what Chris struggled with no one knows. None of us will ever know the struggles of another. Chris’ secrets will remain with Chris.

Rest in peace, my friend…