Bereaved Presidents

"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." Abraham Lincoln 

The following presidents were widowers:
• John Adams wife Abigail died after leaving office
• Woodrow Wilson, lost his first wife Ellen Axon before he was in office. 
• Martin VanBuren, wife, Hannah, died before being elected
• Andrew Jackson was married when elected but his wife, Rachel, died before he entered the White House
• Thomas Jefferson wife, Martha, died before he became president
• John Tyler wife, Letitia Christian died in 1842 while he was in office
• Willard Fillmore’s wife Abigail died shortly after leaving the office
• Franklin Pierce’s wife Jane died after leaving the office
• Rutherford Hayes, wife Lucy died after he left the office
• Chester Arthur’s wife died before he entered office
•Benjamin Harrison’s wife Caroline died while he was in office
• Theodore Roosevelt’s first wife, Alice died and he remarried before being elected
• Herbert Hoover’s wife Louise died after leaving office
• Richard Nixon’s wife Pat died after he left office

The following presidents died in office leaving behind wives and families to grieve for them:
• William Henry Harrison 
• Zachary Taylor 
• Abraham Lincoln 
• James Garfield
• William McKinley 
• Warren Harding 
• Franklin Roosevelt 
• John Kennedy 

Twenty of our 42 presidents and their wives are bereaved parents:
• John Adams, lost his son Charles, 20, while he was president. 
• Thomas Jefferson had six children and only two lived to maturity. One daughter, Mary, 26, died while he was president. 
• James Monroe lost a son two years of age. 
• John Quincy Adams lost a daughter in infancy; a son died while Adams was president; and another son died five years later. 
• William Harrison had ten children; six died before he became president. 
• Zachary Taylor had six children; two died as infants and a daughter died three months after her wedding. 
• Millard Fillmore's daughter Abigail died at 22. 
• Franklin Pierce lost two sons in infancy. Two months before his inauguration to the presidency, their only child, Benjamin, 11 years old, was killed in a railroad accident
• Abraham Lincoln, lost two sons during his lifetime: Edward, four years old, while President Lincoln was in office; and William, 11 years old. 
• Rutherford B. Hayes had eight children, three of whom died in infancy. 
• James Garfield had seven children; two died while still infants. 
• Chester Alan Arthur's eldest son died in infancy. 
• Grover Cleveland's eldest daughter, Ruth, died at 13 years of age. 
• William McKinley, lost both children: Ida, four months old, and Katherine, four years old. 
• Theodore Roosevelt's son died at 21 years of age. 
• Calvin Coolidge had a son, Calvin Jr., who died at 16 while his father was in office
• Franklin Roosevelt's son, Franklin Jr., died in infancy. 
• Dwight Eisenhower's son, Doug Dwight "Icky," three years old, died at Camp Mead, Maryland.

• George H.W. Bush lost his daughter Robin at age 3 to leukemia in 1953

• John Kennedy 2 day old son Patrick died in 1963

About the Author

On June 14th, 1999 my son Noah Thomas Emory Lord age 4 and a half died following complications of a tonsillectomy. That first day it was impossible to imagine taking my next breath much less taking the first steps on what was going to be a continuous walk through grief. On this journey I have cried an ocean of tears, screamed myself hoarse and felt pain so intense that it seemed unbearable. There are no magic words or process that take will take away the pain of grief. Calendars and clocks have no place in the grieving processes, what we all need are a set of tools that we can pick up and decide how and when to use them to re-build our lives. It was this realization that inspired The Grief Toolbox. The Grief Toolbox is both a resource and community for those who grieve and those who work to help them. With a desire to help the bereaved I have been involved with the New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire chapters of the Compassionate Friends, a national support group for bereaved parents. I have served on the National Board of Directors of the Compassionate Friends. I have a passion to serve the bereaved and a desire to help the people who work with them. If you are interested in joining The Grief Toolbox community or to have me present or run motivational workshops please contact me at [email protected] Together we can bring hope to the bereaved.

Grief In Action