The Path Forward

2 min readJan 22, 2021

In her Inauguration Day poem, “The Hill We Climb,” Amanda Gorman recited the lines, “Even as we grieved, we grew.” President Biden gave the best speech of his long career as a public servant, weaving his personal history of profound losses into the fabric of his political determination. I was reminded of the powerful, simple words of my mentor, Dr. Elvin Semrad: “Sorrow is the vitamin of growth.”

On the eve of his presidency, Joe Biden paused to acknowledge and share America’s pain at having lost more than 400,000 fellow citizens to the pandemic. He recognized implicitly that we are all broken in one way or another. And Ms. Gorman’s poem echoed the importance of finding ways to turn “a wounded world into a wondrous one.”

In emphasizing the importance of unity, Biden has taken the first brave and important step toward mending our broken ties. He knows that for all the tears of happy relief that were shed on Inauguration Day, there were also tears of rage and disappointment. Together, we are walking a pathway of grief and joy, of loss and gain, with the power to help each other along the way and move toward a better place.

In my work with patients, I see every day how summoning the power to face grief and loss leads to personal strength. With Joe Biden to lead us, Americans already have greater strength to face the challenges ahead, together.


Dr. Justin A. Frank MD is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst best known as the quintessential expert in the psychology of the 21st-century American presidents.