May 19, 2017

In the Wake of Chris Cornell’s Death: a Letter to Artists & Broken Souls.

The news about Chris Cornell’s death at age 52 is heartbreaking.

While the world has lost an abundantly gifted musician, who fronted epic bands like Soundgarden and Audioslave, his closest family have lost something much more valuable still—a father and husband.

What makes the news particularly sad and gut wrenching is the statement by the Medical Examiner’s Office that Chris Cornell’s death was a suicide.

His family has issued a statement, mentioning the possibility that a higher dosage of the anti-anxiety medication Ativan could have affected his actions.


One word, with a particular soul-crushing meaning.

One word which creates a perfect storm of immense pain and questions for those left behind.

As painful as it is to think about one specific person committing suicide, it’s even harder to think about all the other ones who do. Around the world, people do die in this way—yesterday, today, tomorrow.

It’s heartbreaking to realize that some people find themselves in this place, which to me seems like a nihilistic void, filled with fractures and sorrow.

I don’t pretend to know what it feels like to be in this place. I don’t. And the last thing I want to do is cause anyone more pain with clumsily chosen words. All I can do is offer my own reflection from the outside, in the hopes that it offers some consolation to somebody out there.

There’s obviously pain, deep pain, in the world. Around the world and throughout history, tragedies are happening which surpass human understanding. Some—dare we say, the most brutal ones?—of these are human made. Members of the human race can and do commit acts of barbarism that chill the blood and fracture the soul.

We can choose to numb or distract ourselves from the darkness that is happening or has happened, but doing so often comes at the risk of a loss of feeling in general.

It takes guts to have a feeling heart and a loving spirit. The truth is that it can be hard to be here and to feel fully. It seems that the more sensitive a soul is (as many artists no doubt are), the harder it often is.

It requires courage to see the human condition clearly. It’s tough to know that no matter how hard we try, the inevitable outcome of our life is—death, which is the ultimate goodbye to everything we hold dear in this life.

There’s also so much beauty, grace, and fundamental wellness in this world.

I sometimes think that if we see life fully (as opposed to only selectively, as some do who practice spiritual bypassing through positive thinking), it has a bittersweet quality to it.

But bittersweet, like so many other things, is a continuum. And we all fall on different spots on the continuum.

For me, the quality of life is generally much more sweet than bitter. And even when it’s bitter for a while, I have all the love and support I could wish for.

Love and support doesn’t take the pain away. It’s more like a band-aid covering the wound, so it can heal.

Unfortunately for some others, the quality of life is much more bitter than sweet. This may often be the result of unhealed pain and wounding—in addition to a high sensitivity in general.

Different people may refer to this unhealed pain and wounding in diverse ways—a contemporary psychologist might call it early childhood trauma, a shaman in a tribal culture might have known it as soul loss, and an author like Dawn Clark could describe it as core fractures.

What it is not is something that must be seen as untreatable or unhealable. It’s something that happened to someone, as opposed to something that inevitably is and always will be at the core of who that person is.

It’s been said that it’s not a sign of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. There is truth to that. However, it’s also not a sign of health to be self-abusive or self-destructive.

If you have suicidal thoughts, please do your future self, your loved ones, and the world a favor—open a browser, type in “suicide prevention hotline” (or whatever it is in your language), pick up the phone, and call.

And then find a way to heal what is broken, so that you can be here fully and give your gifts. If you choose this path, many people will be so glad that you did.



Author: Bere Blissenbach
Image: Twitter
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Alicia Wagner May 20, 2017 5:05pm

Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion, but I actually found this piece a bit judgemental. You would be wise to follow the old adage that talks about walking a mile in somebody else's shoes. Or at least remain quiet if you can't speak from experience. Also, how is this a "letter to artists"?

Clementina Labinjo May 20, 2017 10:26am

Bere you write so eloquently a beautiful piece, but I lost site of the death of Chris and found myself reading more about you getting a message across, plus a little judging people "who practice spiritual bypassing". We all have a choice and thank you for expressing your choice. Clementina Labinjo.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Bere Blissenbach

Bere Blissenbach is a (r)evolutionary at heart who wants to help good people make a positive difference in the world. 

Like you, there is a lot more to her story than what would fit into a few sentences so you can find more about her here.

Her website offers a free video series on creating work you love, 
a free meditation for connecting with your authentic  power as well as the Leader for Good interview series. If her articles resonate with you, she would love to connect with you!