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Biden, Loss and a Father's Memory

You know, I do try not to comment on current affairs due the over-politization of, um, everything…. But when it touches on my field of expertise and it targets Grief & Trauma Survivors, I cannot, and will not, keep silent.

The comments made by the special counsel charged with investigating President Biden’s handling of classified documents bothered me to no end.

In talking about the president’s memory, he said that Biden could not remember when his son, Beau died (of brain cancer in 2015).

There are so many moving pieces to this, I hardly know where to begin….

First of all, this investigation was about documents. To comment on his son’s death was callous and inappropriate. I watched many interviews with Biden when Beau died and it crushed him. I dare anyone with a soul to go through a loss like that and not come out changed.

Secondly, it is very common for Grievers to not have full recollection of the details surrounding a loss – the psyche shuts down certain memory pathways to keep you safe from the shock and pain that may drown you. I certainly don’t remember large chunks of the night my mother died, nor the five months after that. And I was 25.

Thirdly, Grief & Trauma cause us to perceive time differently – I often talk about how an event can feel like it just happened, but also feels long ago. I have to remind clients that a loss only occurred a few months ago when it feels like years. Time slows down and we get very unstuck from the normal perception of time. This has nothing to do with age or a poor memory….

In a press conference the following day, Biden said:

“How in the hell dare he raise that,” Biden said in remarks from the White House responding to the report. “Frankly, when I was asked the question I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damn business.”

And I absolutely agree.

It was offensive. It was ugly. And it reflects the tenor of the times that we target and stigmatize Grief & Trauma Survivors in a time where we are all traumatized by the world we live in. If you cannot show compassion, best not say anything at all….



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