Despite the unrest of the last few weeks, we as a nation were able to witness the peaceful transfer of power to a new President on the 20th. However, it was something the day before, on January 19th that struck me.
A nation grieving needs a leader who knows how to grieve
The, then President-elect Biden was saying goodbye to his state of Delaware and thanking them for everything they’d done for him. He was also speaking from the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center , which many will know is named after President Biden’s late son. In the address that the President gave he became openly emotional, he cried, he paused to let the emotion have space, and he talked about his son. In short, he let himself grieve, but in doing so he’s letting everyone else grieve. The most powerful politician, and some say the most powerful person in the world stood on a stage, cried for his dead son and displayed an appropriate healthy way to talk about and mourn for someone we have lost. He didn’t hide it, stuff it down or convey a message that this kind of display of emotion is inappropriate. He led by example and like he said later: to heal is to remember.
Right now, our nation needs that example more than ever. We’ve lost hundred of thousands of loved ones. Many families have lost people this year from a virus that doesn’t care who you are. Our family is one of those. We’ve been through a collective loss and we need to go through a collective mourning and grieving process.
I’m sure Biden will not be a perfect President (because who could be) but I’m thankful that he is a feeling, vulnerable person who knows that it is not weak to allow our emotions a place at the table. I think about our country and am grateful that it chose a leader who knows how to grieve.
In the coming years we will need to heal, and we may have just put someone in charge that is up for the job.