Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/18/2011 11:59 PM

Duerson a father's story without an ending

Success - Article sent! close
  • Daniel Dave Duerson at Walter Payton's public memorial tribute in 1999.

    Daniel Dave Duerson at Walter Payton's public memorial tribute in 1999.


It will be some years before we learn the entire story of Dave Duerson's passing.

Until then much of the focus will be on his football career, concussions he suffered and the role chronic traumatic encephalopathy played in his pain and suffering.

Upon his passing in February, Duerson donated his brain to science and the study of head injury among professional athletes, specifically NFL players, and the long-study results will certainly help tell part of the story.

There also will be more analysis of his finances and the tough times he endured after his playing career.

Former teammates, colleagues, friends and acquaintances seem to believe they have the answers already, having played part jury and judge.

But there won't be much time spent on the small print, and in the small print rests a large part of the story.

In the small print of the obituary are the names of those left behind. In the small print are the names of his children.

And on this Father's Day, I think of his sons Tregg, Chase and Brock and daughter Taylor.

I think of all those left behind by Dave Duerson, who was a mere 50 years old when he took his own life, when he still had so much of his life left to share with his children.

And while the focus is on Duerson and all he went through, not much thought is given to the survivors, which is often the case when there's a suicide.

The suffering of the departed takes precedence, and those who already had suffered with him will now spend a lifetime battling guilt and pain.

It is unimaginable to suffer the kind of anguish that leads one to decide there is no way out, that life is so intolerable that death is the only option.

It is terrifying to think that someone could have nothing for which to live, not faith or friendship, hope or happiness, love or learning.

Not a warm sun in winter, or the warm smile of a child, nothing beautiful enough to quell the pain for an instant.

There is nothing that person is unwilling to give up.

I'm an expert on nothing, something any regular visitor here would attest to, but I do know what happens to the survivors.

So if there's a reason to ponder these questions on a day when smiles should reign, maybe it can be to shed light on something we rarely speak about, perhaps causing just a single person to reconsider the unthinkable.

It's what's left behind, and what's left of those left behind. For them, life is split into before it happened and everything after.

It changes who you are, how you approach life and the way you view everything you do.

Before it, you pay lip service to understanding life is to be lived and enjoyed, and that everything you encounter is not life and death -- that only life and death is life and death.

On the other side, there are the haunting and uncontrolled flashbacks, the guilt, pain and -- at least to some extent -- fear.

For the survivors, there is no escape, but for the survivors there also is no answer.

Never is there an answer.

Some live on with grand dignity, like former Colts coach Tony Dungy, whose son committed suicide in 2005. A man of great faith, Dungy oozes hope and happiness, but every time I see his face I wonder about his quiet moments.

Most do not fare as well, never meeting resolution nor understanding the emptiness.

I am sorry for Dave Duerson, sorry for a man I cheered on the field and who brought me joy as a fan. Sorry for his unimaginable pain.

But I am so very sorry for his children, who will struggle to remember what life was like before Feb. 17, 2011.

Particularly fitting on this day, on this Father's Day that brings so many so much joy and comfort, here's to remembering those who will fight to get through the day.

And to those lucky enough to enjoy it, here's wishing the happiest of Father's Days.

Along with all the hugs you can handle.