Tara Ziemba/Getty Chris and Vicky Cornell
Vicky Cornell, with the help of her children, is keeping her late husband Chris Cornell's memory alive in her home.
The widow and mother of three opened up to Gayle King when she called into SiriusXM's Gayle King In The House on Thursday night, explaining her family's drive to continually honor the late Soundgarden frontman.
"Allow us to talk about our loved ones. Allow us to talk about them every day," Cornell said. "And for me and my children, the most important thing has been to keep Chris alive in our home. So he's spoken about every single day."
Cornell, who lost her husband in May of 2017 when he died by suicide, elaborated on the stigma surrounding suicide, and said that the cause of suicide shouldn't be a question. What should be considered instead, she explained, is how to prevent it.
"The cause does matter because everybody gets to get to the bottom of – we don't just hear 'Oh, they died' of some medical condition. It's like, oh, cancer. And then you're able to get to say, 'OK, what kind of cancer?' And I think that our loved ones, especially when it comes to suicide, it can't just be 'Oh, they died by suicide. They took their own life.' OK, but why? What happened? How can we prevent? And I believe that's a really big part of prevention."
Reflecting on the moments she found out Chris had died, Vicky told King that the feeling was "like a tsunami," because the thought of it happening was "not on the radar."
"This was not like 'Oh, we have to deal with this' in any sort of way. Chris did not suffer suicidal ideation, and Chris was not even depressed," she said. "Chris was in recovery, and he had been on benzos. But again, looking back, nothing even at that very moment felt like… it was impossible. It came from nowhere."
Kevin Mazur/Getty The Cornell family
Together, Chris and Vicky shared daughter Toni, 17, and son Christopher, 16. Back in 2020, Toni shared ahead of World Mental Health Day that she and her brother Christopher had launched their podcast, Stop the Stigma: Tackling the Stigma of Addiction Through Education.
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Her first guest on the program was Dr. Nora Volkow, scientist and director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institute of Health, and the daughter of the rock icon was driven to teach listeners about the impacts of addiction.
"I want listeners to learn about addiction as a disease," Toni told PEOPLE. "We worry about all our organs it seems, except our brains. We often neglect the fact that our brains are affected by genetic and environmental factors and by substance use or abuse, including short and long-term effects of alcoholism."
The teen later paid tribute to her dad in July for what would have been the musician's 58th birthday, sharing a video of her singing Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" to her dad. Her caption: "Happy Birthday to the greatest dad and most incredible human whose life continues to leave an incredible mark on everyone he touches."
"Today, on your birthday, I think so so many join me in saying we miss you the MOST," Toni wrote. "The world would not be the same without you in it, and will never be the same with you gone. You wrote the soundtrack to not just our lives, but for millions, and we will forever hear it."