Biden, Still Grieving His Son, Finds That Not Everyone Wants to Hear About It

Then Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del. Right, he is joined by his son, Delaware Attorney-General Joseph Biden III (known as Beau), at the Democratic National Convention.
WASHINGTON In those hours that preceded Lance Cpl. WASHINGTON In the hours before Lance Cpl. The image shows the Marines' brow furrowed. He raised a peace sign.

Jared Schmitz is his father Mark. He told Joe Biden the story at Dover Air Force Base days later. The two men had been there to witness the respectful transfer of the remains 13 U.S. Marines who were killed in the attack on Kabul. You should not forget his name.

Mark Schmitz was not clear on what happened next. Biden turned the conversation over to Beau, his oldest son who died from brain cancer in 2015. Biden's presidency has been consistent in referring to him. Biden is known for finding a common thread to his son in speeches, Oval Office discussions, and personal asides. Schmitz was also a father who was overwhelmed by grief and it was too much.

Subscribe to The Morning newsletter of the New York Times

Schmitz said that he respects anyone who has lost someone, but it was not the right time.

To avoid any public rift with Gold Star families the Biden administration has not responded to criticisms from Schmitz and other families that the president raised his son too often and was distant during the Dover ceremony. The moment revealed how deeply Biden still grieves the loss of his son, whom he described to confidants as "me", but without all of the negatives.

Biden's reputation is based in part on his ability to endure heartbreaking tragedies. In 1972, his first wife, Neilia and his infant daughter Naomi were both killed in a car accident. People in Biden's life wondered if Beaus death would make it possible for him to recover and even run for the presidency again. They say that his son is the main reason Biden decided to remain in public life.

Continue the story

Shailagh Murray, a former advisor to Bidens, stated that Beau is an unwavering optimist. In many ways, Beau was the human embodiment for this optimism.

According to those who spoke with Biden, he still mentions his son occasionally in the present tense during private conversations. Biden carries his sons' rosary beads, and once held them high during a virtual meeting with the president. Biden is sometimes not aware of the fact that others can be uncomfortable when he broaches his own loss, according to several people who know him.

Murray admitted that he understood the reactions he received better than many people because of his rough reception at Dover from some families.

Biden frequently shares his personal experiences with his family, including his son's battle with brain cancer and deployment to Iraq, in public meetings with doctors, military officers, and families. The most controversial decision of his presidency, the collapse of Afghanistan, saw Biden invoke Beau's memory, a rare opportunity for critics not to jump on his penchant for eulogizing him.

Mr. Mr.

Biden has not claimed that his son was killed in combat but has spoken often about his sons overseas deployments and the impact it had on his family. Biden's supporters claim that while military families have the right to their grief, the president has the same right.

Families who are grieving are free to feel what they want, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime, 14 years old, was killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Doug High School in Parkland in Florida in 2018, said in an interview. He has received calls from Biden periodically. To anyone else who might have been criticizing: Presidents' children, living or not, formed who the president was.

They have also had an influence on Biden's presidency since the beginning. Before Biden left Delaware to head for Washington, D.C. in January, he told his advisors that he wanted a farewell speech at Delaware National Guard headquarters. It was named after his son.

Biden stated that he only had one regret as he made tearful comments on the day. We should be introducing him to the presidency, and he's not there.

Biden, as commander-in-chief, is without a trusted political advisor whose opinions he relied on more than anyone else. According to his aides, he talks to his children Hunter and Ashley daily, but he used talk to his oldest four times per day, exchanging notes and discussing the next steps.

Both were their primary sounding board, especially when it was about political and messaging strategy. Beau, the Delaware attorney general, was considered to be the heir apparent to the Biden political brand. He was intelligent and calm, with a self-deprecating wit. He was an idealist like his father.

Ted Kaufman, a friend, and adviser, stated that he was Biden 2.0. They were father-son. They were in the same business.

Beau talked to his friends before he fell ill about running for governor in Delaware. From there, he could run for the presidency.

Louis Lappen, a U.S. deputy attorney, who was close to Beau, stated that he was an individual of extraordinary integrity. Beau is certain to be there for him when he makes his most difficult decisions.

Biden appointed several former rivals, but also friends and admirers of his son when it came time to pick key positions in his administration. Biden said that Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg reminded him of Beau.

Kamala Harris, Vice President, was the attorney general of California during the same period that Beau held the same position in Delaware. Harris stated that they used to speak daily at one time. This experience was an asset for Biden when he evaluated his running mates.

Beau was a great friend to Kamala and her work. I knew that and it mattered to me a lot when I made this decision last summer. Beaus' opinion is the one I value most.

Beau also knew Lloyd Austin III, a retired General who is now Bidens defense Secretary, during his time in the Army National Guard. Austin, a Catholic, would be next to Beau at Mass. After the election, many of Beau's former aides were scattered across the Biden transition team.

Biden's supporters believe that he is a refreshing change from Donald Trump who was nearly always unable to show empathy publicly. Biden is believed to be the right president at this time in history. This moment was marked by the devastating loss of life caused by the coronavirus pandemic, images of human despair, and the violent ending to America's longest war. Although it has been costly politically, Biden has defended the decision to not send more American sons and daughters to the war.

He clearly has learned a lot about how to mourn and what to grieve. This was evident to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who received a call last year from Biden after his son Tommy killed himself on New Years Eve.

Raskin stated that he was in such pain that he couldn't speak. However, Biden's hard-won assurances that time would heal his familys pain provided some comfort.

Raskin stated that people can have different reactions, but it was consoling.

Raskin and others who met Biden during their deepest grief stated that Beau had spoken up often and for a long time.

Guttenberg claimed that Biden called him unexpectedly about a week following the death of his daughters. During that conversation, he talked about Beau.

Guttenberg stated that he wanted to talk with me about his children, but it was also strangely so that I could talk to him about mine. He was saying it to me as a way of saying "We have a bond here and you can feel comfortable with me."

However, Biden's advisors acknowledge that not all people respond the same way and that he doesn't always adapt his approach depending upon the audience.

Schmitz, the father to the young Marine who was killed in Afghanistan, stated that he looked for ways to share his son's story with anyone who would listen. Schmitz stated that Jared was proud to have been a Marine in a Navy Family and wanted to go to Afghanistan to help the people. His son wants the world know that he is a hero.

He said that he wanted people to get to know a bit of him. These men are incredible human beings.

Schmitz stated that he was again contacted by military personnel this week. They asked him if he would mind receiving a call from Biden. He declined.

2021 The New York Times Company