“Men of power sat around him. . . all struggling with their tears — great hearts sorrowing with the president as a stricken man and a brother.” Nathan Parker Willis on the Death of Lincoln
On February 20, 1862, William Wallace Lincoln, the 11-year-old son of President and Mrs. Lincoln, died of typhoid fever. The openly mourning president would become a symbol of our nation’s grief as the Civil War began to take the lives of 620,000 soldiers over what remains the bloodiest four years in U.S. history.
Upon first seeing his dead son, President Lincoln murmured, “My poor boy. He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die!” Willie was interred in a borrowed crypt at Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown.
His coffin would accompany the president’s on a funeral train to Springfield, Illinois in 1865. This is a story of such profound grief that we can still feel the pain and suffering upon hearing it. Lincoln continues to teach us how to cope with tragic loss…not with a stiff upper lip, but with an unashamed embrace.
According to the United Nations World Population Prospects report, approximately 7,452 people die every day in the United States. Annually, some 37,000 people are killed in automobile accidents, another 45,000 commit suicide and 17,250 more are victims of homicide. There is no doubt that each of us will encounter, and deal with death on a fairly regular basis.
The Association for Death Education and Counseling is an organization dedicated to the study of death and dying. They provide a place for professionals from diverse backgrounds to advance knowledge and promote practical applications to research and theory. Their 41st annual conference will be held in Atlanta this April. Continuing Education Credits are available. This would be a great opportunity for Chaplains and others. Here is a pdf link to the conference overview. An online webinar, Working with Continuing Bonds in Grief Therapy and Counselling is coming up on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 (12:00-1: 30 pm EDT).