Once someone dies, we tend to immortalize the person in all of his or her (positive) glory.
We rarely focus on any ill doings, indiscretions, or mistakes they made – even if we could learn a thing or two from them.
If you happen to be a rock star and if it happens when you’re still relatively young, this is especially the case.
We talk about their brilliant music, their Grammy wins, and their milestone performances, while we listen to their music on repeat, in our own personal send-offs to a youth-defining legend.
We gloss over their well-documented inner demons and lingering addictions. Just ask Jim Morrison (whose birthday is today, FYI) Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, and now Scott Weiland.
In a powerful letter published in Rolling Stone, the late Stone Temple Pilots singer’s ex-wife and mother to his two teenaged children, Mary Forsberg Weiland, asks fans not to glorify his death.
As we all know by now, Weiland was found dead on his tour bus on December 3 after suffering a cardiac arrest in his bed. Cocaine was found in the room (draw your own conclusions).
Her letter illustrates a man riddled with mental illness and inner struggles, including paranoia and addiction issues. She also didn’t shy away from the fact that he was pretty much an absentee dad both during and after their inevitable split, and her resulting personal struggles to provide a somewhat normal life for their two children, Noah (15) and Lucy (13).
Forsberg Weiland says that her children “lost their father years ago,” and “what they truly lost on December 3rd was hope.”
Even after Scott and I split up, I spent countless hours trying to calm his paranoid fits, pushing him into the shower and filling him with coffee, just so that I could drop him into the audience at Noah’s talent show, or Lucy’s musical. Those short encounters were my attempts at giving the kids a feeling of normalcy with their dad. But anything longer would often turn into something scary and uncomfortable for them.
In a painful passage to read, she explains how things got even worse after Weiland remarried.
When he remarried, the children were replaced. They were not invited to his wedding; child support checks often never arrived. Our once sweet Catholic boy refused to watch the kids participate in Christmas Eve plays because he was now an atheist. They have never set foot into his house, and they can’t remember the last time they saw him on a Father’s Day.
She points to society and its fascination and glorification of the rock and roll lifestyle.
But at some point, someone needs to step up and point out that yes, this will happen again – because as a society we almost encourage it. We read awful show reviews, watch videos of artists falling down, unable to recall their lyrics streaming on a teleprompter just a few feet away. And then we click “add to cart” because what actually belongs in a hospital is now considered art.
Forsberg Weiland also doesn’t subscribe to the whole “they’re in a better place” mentality.
I won’t say he can rest now, or that he’s in a better place. He belongs with his children barbecuing in the backyard and waiting for a Notre Dame game to come on. We are angry and sad about this loss, but we are most devastated that he chose to give up.
Forsberg Weiland says that the purpose of her letter is not to cast judgement, but to highlight the fact that many of us know a child in the same shoes. She encourages people to acknowledge their existence.
Offer to accompany them to the father-daughter dance, or teach them to throw a football…Skip the depressing T-shirt with 1967-2015 on it – use the money to take a kid to a ballgame or out for ice cream.