Watching the news this past week was painful as pictures of Vice President Biden and his deceased son Joseph Biden III (Beau were shown on the news, and comments were made on the close relationship between father and son. How, we ask ourselves, is Vice President Biden dealing with another death as we are reminded that in 1972 his wife and young daughter were killed in an automobile accident.
Of course, he will put on a brave face as we all do, but in fact the pain is beyond belief: waves of grief rolling over you, a hollow feeling in the stomach, disbelief and hopelessness. You actually wonder if you will survive, and, of course, at times hope you won't. This is our body's natural response to grief. Our body is driven not only by our thoughts, but by our whole chemical, electrical system. When you first hear of the catastrophic loss you go into what Bessel van der Kolp author of The Body Keeps Score calls "frozen grief" caused by a release of stress hormones.
In this early state imagination stops and the body cannot find peace. Over the next few days, weeks, months or even years, according to Dr. van der Kolp, you don't just remember the event, you relive it as part of your brain shuts down and you are trapped in those moments of loss. It is the body's fight or flight response to an unthinkable event. The problem is that for now there is no solution, only the stark reality of the loss.
Vice President Biden has been there before. His body knows the state of distress that is caused by loss. It is a bit like climbing Mount Everest. You know what it is going to take, but you still have to make the trip. But unlike the first time you know that you will survive. Also, I assume as a father-in-law and a grandfather he feels a greater calling to be strong for others.
Vice President Biden's loss is a reminder to many of us of the losses we have had in our lives. We cry with him, pray for him and wish him and his family the very best. Below are national organizations that have helped me, my family and others who have suffered loss:
The Compassionate Friends - This is an amazing organization with more than 600 chapters in the United States established to help parents, siblings and grandparents deal with the death of a child. The Executive Director is Alan Pedersen who last his daughter in an auto accident. The Compassionate Friends national conference will be held in Dallas, Texas on July 10 this year. www.thecompassionatefriends.org.
Soaring Spirits Foundation -- The organization is tailored for young widows. Executive Director, Michelle Neff Hernandez, was widowed at a young age and the conferences she sponsors are healing and fun. www.soaringspirits.org.
Moyer Foundation -- Camp Erin - Founded by all-star major league baseball pitcher, Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen. The organization offers camps dedicated to encouraging, comforting and supporting children affected by loss. www.moyerfoundation.org.