Joe Biden's 13-month-old daughter and first wife died in a car accident in 1972. Now, with the death of his eldest son Beau at age 46, Biden's own words about the grieving process seem worth recalling. In 2012, he spoke to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors—people who had lost loved ones in military action—at a hotel in Crystal City, Va. Only a year later, Beau was diagnosed with the brain cancer that would later claim his life. Among Biden's words, per the Washington Post and an earlier Post article:
- "By the tone of the phone call, you just knew, didn't you? You knew when they walked up the path. ... You just felt it in your bones."
- "I used to resent people. They'd come up to me and say, 'Joe, I know how you feel.'" [To laughter and clapping:] "I know, right? I knew they meant well. ... But you knew they didn't have any damn idea."
- "For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts. Because they’d been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they’d never get there again."
- "I was angry. Man I was angry. … I was a practicing Catholic at the time, but I was mad at God, oh man."
- "After a while, you’ll see somebody you may have an interest in, and you’re going to feel guilty as hell. You’re going to feel this awful, awful, awful feeling of guilt."
Meanwhile, condolences are pouring out over Beau's death from Democrats and Republicans alike, including a eulogy from John Kerry that the New York Times calls "an unusually lengthy and emotional statement." See Biden's 2012 speech in its entirety. (Read more Joe Biden stories.)