Presidential Bereavement from Years Past

Bereaved Presidents

Did you know that twenty-six of our 45 presidents and their wives were or are bereaved parents to at least one of their children? Our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, lost two sons during his lifetime.  Edward (4 years old) and William (11 years old), while President Lincoln was in office.

He wrote, “In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all… It comes with bitterest agony.  Perfect relief is not possible except with time.  You cannot realize that you will ever feel better… and yet this is a mistake.  You are sure to be happy again.  To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now.  I have experienced enough to know what I say.” 

The president’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, unable to cope with the assassination of her husband and the death of yet another son, Thomas (18 years old) was confined to a sanitarium.  Although she was released after a few months, she was never to be truly well again.

In honor of Presidents Day (February 20th) we pay tribute to all of our US Presidents.  We especially hold close to our hearts, all past and current Presidents who have experienced a loss we all know too well… the devastating loss of a child.  To read more about the fascinating lives of some of these extraordinary, bereaved figures; check out the following link:  GRIEF IN THE WHITE HOUSE.



“Many bereaved parents find that the loss of a child shifts their priorities. They seek meaning in 

life, with all that such a search entails. They also experience a new perspective on what they value:

life’s transience seems more immediate; relationships more vital. These presidents show us a few

of the many forms grief can take. Theodore Roosevelt was crippled with guilt; Calvin Coolidge

discovered new priorities; George H. W. Bush and Dwight Eisenhower found ways to go on,

though never to forget; Abraham Lincoln demonstrated how sorrow and compassion can save a

people and heal a nation.” -David Bannon, 2020


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