When we got home from North Carolina yesterday, we found in our mailbox a personal letter of condolence from Joe Biden. Yes, that Joe Biden. It was signed by him personally (at least it looks like it was) and mentions Hudson by name. We are not totally sure how he heard about Hudson’s death, but we were obviously deeply touched by his effort to reach out to other parents who, like him, have suffered the death of a child. (We are sending him a note so that we can tell him the story of how he already met Hudson, and to offer our condolences to him as well).
A few hours later, a friend sent me a Facebook message about having struck up a conversation with a dad in line at a restaurant. His two kids were running all over the place and his wife was very pregnant. When my friend remarked that he had two kids and one on the way, he proceeded to tell her that he still struggles with the question of “How many kids do you have?” He said he and his wife had actually been blessed with three children and one on the way, and that his oldest left them sooner than they had planned—she died when she was only 22 months old. She would have been seven in August, but he still struggles with whether to be honest when asked that question. He said he usually decides to tell her story because it is one way he keeps her alive in his heart.
What, exactly, do these two stories have to do with each other? At our second meeting with our grief counselor, she said that the best that a grief counselor can do is bear witness to our grief, that the process is our own and can’t really be directed, but that it deserves and needs a witness. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross agrees: “Grief must be witnessed to be healed. Grief shared is grief abated . . . Tell your tale, because it reinforces that your loss mattered.” Telling our story also helps us explore our grief in a way that helps us put it in some kind of order and begin to put back together the pieces of our shattered lives.
This is exactly why I write this blog, because my grief so desperately needs a witness. This is exactly why that dad in line shared his story with my friend, because 6 years later, his grief still needs a witness. This is exactly why Joe Biden sent us a note when he heard about our story, even though he certainly has an infinite number of other things to do, because he is also a bereaved parent and spouse, and he understands the importance of bearing witness.
I am, once again, so grateful for everyone who has sent and continues to send us notes, messages, and tributes, for everyone who continues to call and stop by and invite us out. And for everyone who continues to read my blog, even though it is very difficult at times. You are all bearing witness for us—you continue to reinforce, so powerfully, that our loss matters, not just to us, but to so many others. One Good Thing we can find in the depths of our grief is that we have so many willing witnesses to share it with. Thank you all.