The pain that comes from losing someone close to you is palpable — grief drapes you like a heavy cloak. And judging by a statement from George H.W. Bush’s spokesperson, that’s where the former president finds himself a day after the death of his beloved wife, Barbara Bush.
“Many of you are asking, ‘How is 41,'” Jean Becker said in a statement to USA Today. “He, of course, is broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years. He held her hand all day today and was at her side when [she] left this good earth.” But despite Bush mourning this horrific loss, Becker added that the 93-year-old was “stoic and strong” and “determined to be there” for his family as they grieve the loss too.
In a statement made on Sunday, April 15 (just two days before death), Bush family spokesperson Jim McGrath said, “It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others.”
Since Barbara’s death on Tuesday, April 17, her family has come forward to express their sadness and share fond memories of the former first lady.
— George W. Bush Presidential Center (@TheBushCenter) April 18, 2018
“Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was,” Barbara’s son, George W. Bush, wrote in a statement released through the George W. Bush Presidential Center. “Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you for all your prayers and good wishes.”
Bush’s granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, retweeted her father’s statement on her own Twitter account. She also re-posted a tweet reflecting on her grandmother’s “ability to make people think” as well as one celebrating the sweet anecdotes she and her sisters like to tell about their “Ganny.”
Another of Bush’s sons, Jeb Bush, mirrored brother George’s sentiments in a statement, saying he was “exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush.”
One of the former first lady’s grandsons, George P. Bush, tweeted that his grandmother’s entire life “was focused on others” and that she was a “steady, loving, and guiding hand” in the Bush family.
My grandmother's entire life was focused on others. For my grandfather, she was his top adviser and confidante. For her family, she was a steady, loving and guiding hand. And for her country, she was an inspiration and an example for all. 1/2
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) April 17, 2018
Outside the family, Michelle and Barack Obama also issued a statement in honor of the late Bush matriarch, saying, “We’ll always be grateful to Mrs. Bush for the generosity she showed us throughout our time in the White House, but we’re even more grateful for the way she lived her life — as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling; as an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit. She’ll be remembered for passing those American values on to her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren — and to countless citizens whom she and George inspired to become ‘points of light’ in service to others.”
Former president Bill Clinton expressed his condolences as well, lauding Barbara Bush for living an “honest, vibrant, full life.”
Barbara Bush was a remarkable woman. She had grit & grace, brains & beauty. She was fierce & feisty in support of her family & friends, her country & her causes. She showed us what an honest, vibrant, full life looks like. Hillary and I mourn her passing and bless her memory.
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) April 17, 2018
Clearly, Barbara Bush had a lasting impact and will be missed by many.