Three years after the Linkin Park frontman took his own life, his first wife Samantha — now a life coach — is releasing a memoir about loss, love and healing

By Gillian Telling
September 28, 2020 05:25 PM
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Samantha Bennington
Samantha Bennington

Samantha Bennington, the first wife of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who died by suicide in July 2017 at age 41, is breaking her silence on the pain she experienced after his loss — including how she's healing, and how she hopes to help others who have lost loved ones by suicide.

In her first memoir, Falling Love Notes: Memories of a Rock Star Wife (out Nov. 24, and available for order at samanthabennington.com) writes of the day she and their son, Draven, 18, first heard the news about her ex-husband Chester.

"I'm very honest and vulnerable about what we experienced that day and the days after," she tells PEOPLE. "That's part of the healing. I want to share it. Because I know he touched so many people worldwide, and it's such a worldwide topic. Even if you're not a fan of my ex-husband's bands, there's really two different audiences here."

She's speaking of loved ones dying by suicide. The life coach, now 48, says that after Bennington's death, a friend wrote to her and said "Welcome to the club." " I said, 'What club? I don't want to be part of any club.' She said, 'No one does, and I'm so sorry you're going through this, but we're here to support each other so reach out anytime.' So there is a huge support system worldwide. We're not alone. We can get through these adversities together. I really want the reader to understand that."

The book cover
Draven Bennington

Bennington, whose son Draven did the artwork for her book cover, says the memoir isn't just about her relationship with Chester, but a reflection on her entire life. Raised by adoptive parents, she had a rebellious streak in her teens that led her to be deeply entwined in the music scene. A chance meeting at a show led to her falling in love with Chester, whom she married in 1996.

As Linkin Park began to get famous, she was there every step of the way. "I never doubted him for a second," she says of his fame. "I always knew we were going to get there so I was prepared for it. But it's not as glam as some people think. It's a lot of hard work. Some days you wake up in a different state, other days in a different country. It's exhausting. But would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat!"

As for why she chose now to write the memoir, she says it was actually in the works for a long time. "I had to emotionally heal from a lot of things," she says. "I decided to release it now because with the way the world is now, I feel like the whole world needs healing. There's something I discovered with the writing process — it's very healing to write down your thoughts and reflect. That's how I came up with the title — it's love letters to myself, as well as others. There's some really special letters in there."

Chester Bennington
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

As for how she and Draven have been faring, she says they're doing the best they can. "There's always going to be piece of him missing because it's his father," she says of their son. "But I'm extremely proud of him. He really dove into his art and his healing. We decided to give ourselves permission to live and be happy, and through my life coaching and writing, I was able to do that. I told him he had permission to love and heal and be happy, because that's what his dad would want."

Samantha says she realized she wanted her son to do her book cover, and gave him full creative control. "I said, let's see what you can come up with. It's absolutely beautiful to me. I'm so honored."

Falling Love Notes: Memories of a Rock Star Wife is available for pre-order now and will be released Nov. 24

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.