He found strength in Jill Biden three years after the crash, and she helped him heal and evolve.
President Joe Biden went to St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware on December 18, 2021. He was accompanied by First Lady Jill Biden, daughter Ashley, and son Hunter, to visit his first wife and daughter's grave after they died in a tragic accident. It has been 49 years since he lost his partner and their 13-month-old daughter.
In December 1972, shortly after President Joe Biden was elected to the senate, he experienced the devastating loss. His wife and their newborn child had been killed in a car crash. His sons were injured but had made it out alive.
Biden's first wife Neilia, and 13-month-old daughter Naomi lost their lives in a Christmastime car crash, reports PEOPLE. The accident happened when the family was on their way to pick out a tree for the holidays. Hunter and Beau who were just three and four at the time survived but suffered serious injuries.
In 2012, Biden recalled how he felt when he found out about the accident. "By the tone of the phone call, you just knew," Biden said while addressing the families of fallen U.S. soldiers. "You just felt it in your bones: Something bad happened."
In fact, he took the oath of office while he was at the hospital, so he could stay with his boys while they recuperated.
"I was supposed to be sworn in with everyone else that year in '73, but I wouldn't go down. So … the secretary of the Senate [came] to swear me in, in the hospital room with my children," he recalled in a Yale University commencement address in 2015.
Reflecting on the relationship Biden shared with Neilia, Express reported him saying, "Neilia was my very best friend, my greatest ally, my sensuous lover. The longer we lived together the more we enjoyed everything... When you lose something like that, you lose a part of yourself that you never get back again."
The tragedy haunted him at the start of his Senate career, but three years after his wife's untimely demise, he met Jill Jacobs, who was o-ed at the University of Delaware. “She gave me back my life,” Biden said in his 2007 memoir, Promises to Keep. “She made me start to think my family might be whole again.”
Finally, the two wed in June 1977 in an intimate wedding ceremony with Beau and Hunter by their side as they exchanged their vows. Since then, there's been no looking back for the couple, who are still in love with each other.
When CBS News asked him about the secret to their marriage, he replied, "I adore her. It sounds... gonna sound so stupid, I was saying to her the other day when she comes down the steps and I look at her, I still... my heart still skips a beat."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Joshua Roberts