June 11th, 2015
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Beau Biden and his family: Wife Hallie Biden (Left) Daughter Natalie (Middle)  and Son Hunter (Right).  Special to The News Journal/SAQUAN STIMPSON

                                                 Beau Biden and his family:

                                                Wife Hallie Biden (Left) Daughter Natalie (Middle) and Son Hunter (Right).

                                                Special to The News Journal/SAQUAN STIMPSON

Dearest Hallie:

We have never met but my thoughts are with you this morning.

Please accept my sincerest condolences upon the death of your beloved husband, Beau Biden.  His funeral this past Saturday was touching and heartbreaking and by allowing his Mass to be aired on television, you gave others the opportunity to grieve with you and also to draw strength from the open and emotional manner in which the Biden family gracefully handled the heartbreak of Beau’s death.

I am a widow too and as I watched Beau’s funeral, I kept seeing the day through your eyes

Your life has tragically and dramatically changed.  Perhaps you are waking up today in the bedroom which you and Beau shared.  For that split second when you begin to become aware of waking but you haven’t yet opened your eyes, you may think he is there beside you for his pillow still holds the smell of him.  This morning your two young children may be sleeping with you because everyone wants to be together.

Maybe you haven’t slept much at all and are on the verge of crying.  Again.  Or you had a vivid dream about Beau.  As you fall into the beginnings of your day, reminders of Beau are everywhere.  All of his clothes are still hanging in his closet and his drawers are full of belongings he no longer needs.  His razor is probably resting on the bathroom sink along with his other toiletries and when you somehow make your way to the kitchen you stare at his coffee mug.

Even as you feel life moving you forwards, you do not want to stand alone.  You do not want to disconnect from Beau. You want to go backwards in time.  And that is perfectly normal.

This is the part of grieving that people have a difficult time talking about.  The part where you are left in the quiet by yourself and then have to figure out what is supposed to come next.  They think they know what you are feeling but they really don’t.  It’s stark and painful and people are afraid that by talking to you about your deceased loved one that they will upset you.  They needn’t worry.  You are already upset.

When my husband died, our young son was then thirteen years old.  It took me a long time to really and truly grasp that my husband was gone.  As in permanently.  Never to be seen or touched again.  I kept a bottle of my husband’s Old Spice shaving lotion in the bathroom cabinet for at least five years.  Just knowing that some of his stuff was still around was comforting to me.  Every once in awhile I would open the cabinet, click open the top, close my eyes and sniff.  All of my husband would come back to me in the rush of that scent.  Then it would become too much and I would put it back.

In those months following his death, I felt as if I were walking through cotton candy every day and I am thinking you must feel the same way.  Time seemed to slide around.  Memories from years ago blended with the immediate memories of his funeral.  I felt like I was going to die myself from the intensity of the pain after my husband’s death but then I would look into the bottomless blue eyes of our son and knew how much he needed me to keep it together.

No one talks much about this part because it is so personal, so intimate and it’s the beginning of the unknown part of the grieving process.  It is shattering in every way that you can and cannot imagine.  We grieve because we love and when the person that we loved with all of our heart and soul is gone, everything stops.

My heart and my prayers go out to you and your family during this tragic time.  I know your family and friends will give you tremendous support, hug you tightly and hold your hand and listen to you when nothing seems to make sense.  They will try as best they can to take the rawness of life without Beau away from you.  But you will be looking for Beau for he is part of your DNA.

Each of us reacts differently to the loss of a loved one but we are the ones unfortunately who must figure out how to go on.  How to pursue our changed lives and how to let ourselves be changed by our loss.

Please know that you are enough.  You really and truly are.  Trust and follow your instincts for there is no right way or wrong way to grieve and no one’s story of loss and grief is the same as the next person’s.  People find different sources of support and I know you will find the best one for you and your children.

I wish I could tell you how long you will feel vulnerable and exposed.  I can tell you that those feelings are not permanent.  Let yourself be in the moment, whatever that may be, and spend time with those who allow you to grieve the way you want without question.

If I can respectfully pass along anything that I learned, I think it would be that it’s important to be kind to yourself.  You are probably feeling emotionally and physically burned out and it’s important to eat and sleep whenever possible.  You might want to second guess yourself but please don’t.  Everything you did and didn’t do was out of love for Beau and you made the very best decisions you could.

Take each day as it arrives and slowly through love, prayer and friendship, I think you will find that you will begin to gain control over your emotions and what direction you want your life to follow.

I promise your heart will heal.


Mary Kate

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