“The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles has always been a favorite song of mine. Written by Paul McCartney and released in May 1970, one month after the group broke up, it was the group’s last number one hit on Billboard. Listen to the song here.
This poignant song has always resonated with me because of what was going on in my own life at the time. That summer, my husband Larry had just been deployed to Vietnam. My feelings of loss and abandonment at his departure were beginning to overwhelm me and I became horribly afraid that, like my father, who passed away when I was nine, Larry would never return.
I began secretly drinking, binging and even cutting. Feeling overwhelmed with life’s heavy burdens and the responsibilities of raising our infant daughter, I made the most important decision of my life–to seek professional help by checking myself into the Menninger Clinic in Kansas City to be treated for Clinical Depression.
While I was being treated there “The Long and Winding Road” became a calming anthem for me. Its lyrics gave me a place to go in my head. When I heard those words, “Don’t leave me standing here,” they spoke to my feelings toward Larry, who died in Vietnam shortly after his deployment. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the universe and that others shared my feelings of loss and abandonment.
Many of these feelings have come flooding back to me this year, with the recent tragic passing of two immensely talented young musicians, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. While of a different generation, these two men’s stories connected with me in an emotional way.
They were close friends, and each leaves a young family behind. Their families’ losses are all our losses. In trying to understand their pain, I listened closely to the lyrics to their songs to try to understand more about them.
Clearly, each of them struggled with painful personal demons. Despite their immense talent, adoring fans and loving families and friends, their pain ultimately overtook them.
And, while none of us can presume to understand what’s going on in the mind of another, I do understand terrible emotional pain—pain and depression that enfolds us and sucks out the hope in our soul.
As we face these losses, I would urge others to remember these two singers with love, and to redouble our commitment to embracing those around us who also struggle, encouraging them to seek help like I did. This website, set up in memory of Chester Bennington, offers resources for those suffering.