Details of Dan Wheldon's Last Night Change the Way We Mourn

Dan WheldonThe sudden death of IndyCar racer Dan Wheldon has been the talk of the sports world since Sunday night. But the details of what the father of two was doing the night before he died are a sobering reminder that for all the RIPs posted on Facebook and stirring tributes written online, the way we mourn athletes has nothing on the suffering of their families. Public figures they may be, but it's easy to forget that athletes have a whole other life off of our TV screens.

Driving that home? On the night before his last race, Dan Wheldon was with his wife, having "his" and "hers" tattoos done by a Las Vegas inker.

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Dan's fresh ink read "S.W." on his wrist, for wife Susie Behm Wheldon. The mom of his two sons, Sebastian and Oliver, had "D.W." inked in the same spot. Of course they had no idea what would happen the next day, so it was supposed to simply be a sweet moment shared by a married couple who were very much in love (and hoping to make their family even bigger).

The events on Lap 11 of Sunday's race have turned it into something more bittersweet. I felt the pricking at the edge of my eyes even as I typed about it.

Then again, I'm a complete sap. And I can separate the feelings of sadness that come from looking at a tragic situation from the people who try to "own" a level of devastation that borders on creepy. If you have never even met a guy who just so happened to drive your favorite race car, don't tell me his death destroyed you. Let's get some perspective here, people!

Dan Wheldon's wife and kids were pummeled in the guts on Sunday. Just one look at how he spent his last night on earth should be proof enough that's where his priorities lay. Let's step back and give his loved ones space to own their grief.

Do you get a little tired of people who wail about the loss of athletes as though they were best friends?

 

Image via amika_san/Flickr

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