Biden’s Burden: Loss Pays Another Visit

I did not know Beau Biden but I read how proud the Vice President was of his son. Family always has come first to him.

But this is not the first time Death has visited Joe Biden. Not by a long shot. He lost his first wife and his daughter in a car accident shortly after his election to the Senate. Beau was severely injured. It would be the first of many challenges Beau and the family would face.

The country is saddened, and party doesn’t matter. We all share the family’s loss because it can happen to any one of us.

It did to me, and while I know some friends and FB acquaintances are tired of my efforts to bring child loss to the national discussion, the loss of Beau Biden compels us to talk about it.

Grief is always lurking around the corner. And when it comes, it comes hard with the loss of a child — one of the most devastating life events that can happen.

When I grew up in the ’60s on Long Island, it was like Camelot. Families stayed together for the most part and children certainly didn’t die. Well, they did, but few of us were touched by it. I never expected to be touched by it.

So, now it’s back in the news and it hurts.

Thanks to over 30 members of both houses of Congress, the national discussion of how to deal with child loss is front and center.

Before any of you say, “Not again, Kluger,” I make no apologies for taking this breaking news and using it as an opportunity to tell people why this affects all of us. From the parents of those killed in our cities to our police officers gunned down as they are about to begin maternity leave, to our soldiers who won’t be coming home, death and grief affect all of us.

Introduced on May 12, 2015, HR2260 and S1302, The Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act, which was inspired by the Farley-Kluger Initiative, a petition to Congress to Amend the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, now is comprised of bi-partisan support.

Under current law, workers get 12 weeks of unpaid leave to have or adopt a child, care for a sick family member or your own illness or care for an injured service member. But when you lose a child, you get the customary 3-5 days of bereavement leave and are forced to return to the workplace, still broken, still grieving. Work is the last thing on your mind. You just need time.

Thousands have been fired from their jobs for needing time. In 1993, this bereavement leave was not included. I believe it was an oversight, one that can and should be fixed.

But most of us live every day, by the grace of God, with our families intact. Let’s imagine you have not been touched by the tragedy of child loss either your own or a friend or colleague. How does another person’s tragedy affect you? Because without support, they are part of our daily lives. Let’s call this a cautionary tale.

Imagine the person who has only been granted a few days off returns, still in turmoil. Are they a school bus driver driving your children, an airline pilot taking you on that vacation you longed for, an anesthesiologist, a pharmacist, a lifeguard whose performance of their duties requires a sharp mind? Shall we go on? A truck driver, an exterminator, an assembly line worker, a surgeon, a building contractor, a safety inspector, an EMT or a police officer?

Everyone is affected by child loss, not just those who suffer this horrible fate, but those of us who come into contact with those mentioned above who, without the proper amount of time to begin to deal with their loss, puts all of us in harm’s way.

Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Christians, Jews, Muslim, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, rich, poor all lose children.

Once again, we are mourning the loss of a bright light. And for many families, we keep the light alive when it is oh so painful to do so.

But Death does its “job” without any bias. It doesn’t have a quota on how many deaths one family can suffer. Just ask Joe.

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