He had held one of the most powerful jobs in the world.

But when Joe Biden sat down to talk with an Omaha mom, he was simply another grieving parent.

Sue Roberts said she felt a powerful bond with the former vice president when she got a chance to talk with him about the deaths of their children from brain cancer.

Biden’s 46-year-old son, Beau, died in 2015. Roberts’ 37-year-old daughter, Heather, died last year.

“It was comforting to be able to speak to somebody who gets it,’’ Roberts said.

Roberts spoke for 20 minutes with Biden following a presentation he gave in Salt Lake City this month. Roberts’ daughter Amy works for the health system that sponsored the event and helped arrange the meeting.

Biden hugged Roberts and her daughter and suggested that they find a quiet place to talk.

The two women and Biden stepped into a small room, and he pulled three armchairs together. Biden held their hands and told them that he was sorry for the loss of Heather, who died last November after an eight-year battle with cancer.

Roberts and Biden soon discovered their children had something in common beyond their disease.

Biden told Roberts that his son worried about how his dad and the rest of the family would cope with his death. Roberts said her daughter was the same way.

“She told everyone who would listen ‘Take care of my parents. I worry about them more than anything,’ ’’ Roberts said.

Roberts said Biden also told her that the second year after the death of a child is worse than the first, because the loss feels even more real.

But Biden offered words of encouragement, saying that “hope, family and faith will get you through.”

Biden’s struggle with his son’s death became political news when he decided not run for president in 2016, citing his ongoing grief.

As Biden spoke with Roberts, she said, his staff opened the door three times, reminding him that he needed to head to a reception.

And three times Biden said his conversation with Roberts was more important.

michael.oconnor@owh.com, 402-444-1122

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