Jenna Bush Hager shares anecdotes from George H.W. Bush’s funeral
10th December 2018

‘We felt surrounded with love’: Jenna Bush Hager shares sweet anecdotes from her grandfather’s funeral as she returns to the Today show after taking a week off to mourn George H.W.

  • Jenna, 37, returned to the Today show on Monday after mourning her late grandfather George H.W. Bush last week 
  • The former president passed away on November 30, at the age of 94 
  • Jenna said she is still ‘in pain’ but feels lucky that she and her family were able to give her grandfather a ‘proper sendoff’   
  • ‘He had these lessons that he lived by and one of them was, don’t be afraid to cry. That was the way we were raised,’ Jenna said of her late grandfather  

Jenna Bush Hager returned to the Today show on Monday after a week of mourning her late grandfather George. H.W. Bush. 

The former president passed away on November 30, at the age of 94, and while the 37-year-old Today correspondent said she is still ‘in pain,’ she feels lucky that she and her family were able to give her grandfather a ‘proper sendoff.’ 

Jenna acknowledged that it can be difficult to lose someone publicly because you hear people talking about your loved one, but she stressed that she and her family ‘felt so surrounded with love.’ 

Back to work: Jenna Bush Hager, 37, returned to the Today show on Monday after a week of mourning her late grandfather George. H.W. Bush

Loss: The former president passed away on November 30, at the age of 94

‘And I just thought about other people that lost people they loved this season, right before Christmas, who don’t get this, and then life goes on. But for us, we felt it,’ she said. 

‘He would have been embarrassed, I think, by how public it was, and by how much we talked about him.’ 

Jenna explained that her father, George W. Bush, was determined not to cry when he delivered his eulogy at the memorial service held at National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. last week. 

The former president remained composed throughout his speech, but at the very end, he briefly choked up.   

‘He was so hilarious, he was like, “I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry.” And then afterward he was, like, “I made it to the two-yard line,”‘ she said. 


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Opening up: Jenna said she is still ‘in pain’ but feels lucky that she and her family were able to give her grandfather a ‘proper sendoff’

Support: Jenna said she and her family ‘felt so surrounded with love’ last week 

Jenna pointed out that her grandfather had always encouraged them to show their true emotions. 

‘He had these lessons that he lived by and one of them was, don’t be afraid to cry. That was the way we were raised,’ she said, adding: ‘I cry at the drop of a hat.

‘But I think it’s okay to show pain when you’re feeling pain, and joy when you’re also feeling joy.’

Jenna also spoke at her grandfather’s state funeral after her cousins Lauren Bush Lauren and Ashley Walker Bush.

She delivered a reading from Revelation 21:1-4; 6-7; 23-25 to the mourners at the National Cathedral. 

It came after Jenna read a love letter to her grandfather on the Today show last Monday after the news of her grandfather’s death was announced.

Paying tribute: Following her grandfather’s funeral in Houston, Texas, a special train took Bush’s remains to College Station 

Unforgettable ride: Jenna and her family were aboard the train and watched as thousands of people lined the streets to pay their respects

She decided to write a love letter to her grandfather because he had a history of writing similar letters to his wife, Barbara Bush, throughout their 73-year-long marriage.

Although they were in mourning, Jenna said she and her family still shared many happy moments last week.  

‘He left behind a family that loves each other,’ Jenna said. ‘There was a lot of laughter. My cousins are hilarious. We laughed and we had a lot of fun. We told stories. You know, we’ll miss him, but he’s in a better place.’ 

Following her grandfather’s funeral in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, a special Union Pacific train led by a locomotive dubbed the ‘Bush 4141’ took Bush’s remains to College Station, which was what Jenna said he had always wanted.

She and her family were aboard the train and watched as thousands of people lined the streets to pay their respects to the former president before he was buried at his presidential library. 

Words: Jenna delivered a reading from Revelation 21:1-4; 6-7; 23-25 to the mourners at her grandfather’s state funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. last week 

Lesson: Jenna explained on the Today show that her grandpa taught her ‘don’t be afraid to cry’ 

Jenna said she had a ‘hilarious time’ with her dad during the train ride.  

‘He would be like, “Okay, let’s see if we can get the guy in the black shirt to wave,’ she recalled.  

The late Bush was buried at his presidential library next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and their daughter Robin, who died in 1953.

Jenna said she heard somewhere that when a loved one passes away you can emulate them and fill that void. 

‘My grandpa was extraordinarily patient. He was patient with us. He never made us feel like what we had to say wasn’t important,’ she explained, noting that she can sometimes be impatient with her daughters, Mila, five, and Poppy, three. 

‘I have just decided like maybe that’s the void I am going to fill,’ she said. 

Later in the show, Jenna discussed rumors of the British royal family having a text chain while revealing that her family is on several different text chains, which can sometimes get tricky. 

Memories: Although they’re in mourning, Jenna said she and her family shared many happy moments last week. She and her twin sister, Barbara, are pictured with their grandfather 


Role model: The mother-of-two said her grandfather’s patience has inspired her to be more patient with her daughters Mila, five, and Poppy, three 

Out: Jenna and her husband, Henry Hager, enjoyed a night out in New York City on Saturday

‘We are on one with my cousins called The Best Cousins Ever,’ she said.

Then there is a separate one with her parents and her twin sister Barbara — but not Jenna’s husband Henry — and another chain with everybody on it. 

‘I wrote the one that everybody’s on, and I said, “Henry wants this for Christmas,”‘ she admitted. ‘And Henry goes, “Thanks, Jenna.” I was like, “Oops!”‘ 

The situation became even more comical when Jenna’s dad weighed in on Henry’s gift, replying: ‘Too expensive.’ 

Jenna and her husband, Henry, enjoyed a night out in New York City on Saturday after they returned home from Texas. 

They had a late dinner with friends at Il Mulino in Tribeca, according to The Blast.  

The group reportedly ate in the back room where they had several different pasta dishes and main courses as well as a bottle of wine.

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