Joe Biden held a private memorial service with his family over the weekend to mark the fifth anniversary of his late son Beau Biden's death, the former vice president told MSNBC.
Beau, an Iraq veteran and the former attorney general of Delaware, died from brain cancer in 2015. He was 46 years old.
"We always have a memorial mass but the churches are closed," Biden, 77, said, referencing nationwide closures due to the coronavirus pandemic and protests in response to the killing of George Floyd. "We're going to have a private mass. A good friend of ours — an army chaplain, a catholic priest — is going to say mass for our very near family here at our home."
Beau's death in 2015 was an emotional loss for the former vice president and partly impacted his decision to run for president in 2016. The former vice president said in a White House address in October 2015 that the window closed on his 2016 campaign while his family was still grieving Beau's death.
Biden has referenced son Beau's death in recent months while empathizing with families of the COVID-19 crisis. The novel coronavirus has claimed at least 104,300 lives in the U.S. as of June 1, according to the New York Times.
"It's like there's a big black hole you seem to get sucked into," Biden recently told Late Show host Stephen Colbert. "But you've got to remember over time that there's still part of you — in your heart and your soul, it's who you are — there's this connection that is real. The only way I know, for me, how to get through it is to find purpose. What would the person you lost, what would they want you doing? What can you do to make it better?"
He has laid his grief bare in interviews since Beau's passing five years ago, as well as publishing his personal diaries in a 2017 memoir about his son's death, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose. “Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known,” he wrote in a statement announcing his son's death in 2015.
From left to right: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Former Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden take photos with their son Beau Biden and his wife Hallie Biden on February 29, 2012
Mark Wilson/Getty Beau Biden at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
Beau survived the 1972 car accident that killed his mother, Biden's first wife Neilia Hunter, and the pair's 1-year-old daughter Naomi. Beau and his younger brother Hunter, now 50, survived the crash.
Beau and Hunter encouraged their father to remarry, according to CNN. The former vice president married Dr. Jill Biden in 1977.
Last April, Biden announced his 2020 presidential bid. His campaign hit a surging comeback on Super Tuesday, ignited by a landslide victory in South Carolina.
"Every morning I get up, I ask myself, 'Is he proud of me?' Am I meeting the requirement that I promised him that I would do?" Biden told Colbert this month, adding that Beau was his "soul" and Hunter is his "heart."
Prior to the weekend, Biden told MSNBC that he's thought of how son Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware, would have handled the response to Floyd's death.
"I thought of Beau today and I know what Beau would insist on were he the attorney general," Biden said. "He would make sure that justice was done. He would not care about whatever the political implications of whether or not he would make somebody angry or not angry. He would do the right thing, just as he did when he was here."
Biden continued: "And so I, uh, I thought of him today. I thought of him today. He's up in heaven looking down right now thinking, my God, when is it going to end? We've got to end it. We've got to end it. We've got to make it better."