There’s a New Man in Town
By Dave Simone
Bereaved Father, Tampa, Florida
My son is dead. The moment I was told my son died in an auto accident, there was a new man in
town. The old man would find a way to fix “it” or at least make “it” better. The new man couldn’t
fix a thing. Oh, he could make arrangements, settle accounts, acknowledge condolences as though
he were really there but the new man was far off, living in a protective shell hardened by disbelief
and shock. Yes, he did things, but he didn’t feel in the old ways, he was far off being reborn.
My wife’s grief would bring the new man back, at least for a while. There was no fixing her, just
acknowledgement of the hurt and pain and helplessness we both felt. I was there for her as she was
there for me and we bonded in our grief at depths we did not know existed. My son did not die to
make our marriage better or worse and his death did not change what it fundamentally was and is.
There is however a new level where we meet to hurt and heal together.
When a baby is born there are pain and tears followed by profound joy. If that baby dies before
his parents, there is pain and tears and a longing for peace. No man can anticipate the number of
tears that will flow during his rebirth. The half hour drive to work each morning was a time of
nothing but tears and pain and guardian angels to provide safety for myself and those around me.
The new man was every bit the good driver the old man was, but he wasn’t there, he was far off
being reborn in those unstoppable tears. Peace was nowhere to be found.
I am not going into detail into the many ways I think I have changed. Believe me, I have
changed and so have you fellow bereaved father. I cannot believe my son died to make me a better
man. I do believe that my son’s death shocked me into holding dear all that was always precious to
me with the new knowledge that “it” can all end in an instant, and neither the old man nor the new
man can ever fix “it.” The protective shell is fading away and real peace is finding its way into my
heart and soul. But the shell will never be completely gone and the peace will never blend into
complacency. We are new men with new priorities and new things to do. This does not mean we
abandon all that was of the old man, the newness is in our attitudes and understanding and
acceptance of vulnerability.