May 31, 2015

Joe Biden and Grief

The year after we lost Cale I started to connect with a lot of other loss moms, mostly through blogs. It was (and still is) a really great outlet for me to not only express my grief, but to be able to share it with others and in turn, share in their grief. It's like the saying "misery loves company," but really I think that any intense emotion loves (and needs) company. Because just being able to identify in another the feelings you are experiencing can be really helpful and dare I say even healing, or at the very least reassuring.

When I read the news of Joe Biden's son this morning I got that achy feeling in my chest for him. Because on top of the devastation of losing his son (who has two children of his own), he had already lost his wife and daughter over forty years ago. Another example where enough is enough! How some people can escape life tragedy free and others seem to be hit repeatedly is maddening and mind boggling to me.

When I first started connecting with others, I read a post from my friend Brooke in which she talks about how stillbirth needs to be more talked about and not a shameful secret. She writes:

There has to be a way to let people know that a stillborn baby will break your heart, but it doesn't have to wreck your entire life.

Because that is what people need to know--it's what I still need to be told.

I've said a million times that there is no upside to the loss of a baby, there is no silver lining, there is nothing that will ever make this remotely okay.  But there should be a way to say that this is an event that you can survive.  That this great loss can hollow out your guts and also enrich your life in unexpected ways.  That great sorrow can make room for great joy.  That you will survive this.  That it will change you forever, but not all of those changes will be bad.  That even five months later you will still hurt more than you ever have in your life, but you will also find hope again.  This sort of information should be out there.

And I think that while horrible that Joe Biden and his family have endured another loss, maybe his story will help shed some more light on grief and tragedy and things that we often don't talk about, at least not as frequently as we should. Because take out "stillborn baby" and insert whatever heartache you're enduring and Brooke's words still ring true. Car accidents can break your heart, but don't have to wreck your entire life. Cancer and war and sibling death and violent attacks and on and on and on, all these things can undeniably be horrific events in ones life, but as Brooke said, great sorrow can make room for great joy. Joe Biden himself said that himself, that grief doesn't go away. It just makes room for other things.

We are approaching five years without our boy. Five years in which my grief has changed and moved and made room for other things, but never completely subsided, nor would I want it to. We grieve big because we love big. I suspect the Biden family will need to grieve big for a long time and I hope it's a reminder to the public that doing so is not only ok and healthy and normal, but also a reminder to those also grieving that they are not alone. And if we can all empathize with the Vice President and his family, hopefully we can do that a little more with the people in our every day life as well.


  1. I saw the news late last night and my heart just broke. I love Joe Biden, and I've always been so touched by his story of loss and family. If you have a chance, watch his commencement speech at Yale a couple of weeks ago, especially now that we know what his immediate family knew -that the cancer was back and the prognosis was bleak. Joe Biden has always spoken freely about grief and loss, and how they can exist with great joy and endurance and service to others.
    It shouldn't be story with a time limit either, even something that happened five years ago or even forty. Or yesterday.

  2. I just watched the Yale speech (hello naptime!). Biden's gaffs are sometimes cringeworthy, but I will always appreciate his realness in speaking out about grief and family and love. My heart goes out to his family.
    We have passed Bear's birthday now and I think often of your boys' birthdays coming up, the joy and pain so interconnected. Big love my friend.

  3. I hope you know I still read your blog. Like, And I'm looking for a chunk of time when I can comment on all of what I've read in the past few weeks and just knock it out in ine swoop. But I read it all Caroline - I want you to know that.

    I just watched a piece that heather posted on Facebook might have been from 2012. I didn't look at the details of the link. But, man did his every word hit me, and I let out a few good cries.

    My heart is breaking with the news of another child lost in this strong mans life. But what you wrote is so true. Great sorrow making room for great joy...surviving the worst does not mean your life is trampled on forever. I didn't ever think id believe that in the first months...or year even out from Alexander's death. But I see it more now every day. 3+ years out, and I can put some of the broken hearted pieces together and REALLY feel like I can let go of so many expectations I had in 2011 before Alexander's stillbirth. And not all days are 100% behind my new outlook. But I let it be. If I want to scowl at it all some days and embrace it another, I let it be.

    I'm rambling.

    I've found so much through your blog. Your story. As it continues to unfold and inspire.

    I've found so much healing in your own expressions of grief and love for Cale. Love to you lady <3

    Holding your beautiful family of 5 close as June is around the corner.


  4. This is all so well stated, including everything Brook said. The grief that the Bidens are facing breaks my heart, and while I'm glad that so many people are being compassionate regardless of political leanings, it still floors me that some people can still be so insensitive. So thanks for sharing your perspectiv. Every time you do it helps me (and I hope others who don't personally know what it feels like) learn a little more and understand how to respond better. Lots of love this June <3

  5. With Joe Biden and Sheryl Sandburg's losses, it's been interesting to see how much grief has been in the news lately. My heart aches for both of them, but I feel like I appreciate the opportunity to educate others about grief. No certainly didn't know much about it until last November. I look forward to th grief allowing space for other things. Right now it often feels just like grief and anxiety. Much love to you and Cale.