Jackie's Letters: Private Anguish

Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of US President John F. Kennedy, B&W photo on black AP

She was 34 years old when she buried her presidential husband. And while the rest of the world may have wept, Jacqueline Kennedy remained the epitome of poise and courage.

At least that was her public face. Today, in letters released at Georgetown University, it was clear that, privately, the young widow was battling fear, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.

On July 15, 1964, nearly eight months after John F. Kennedy died, she wrote to a priest at Georgetown:

"I am trying to make all the efforts you said I should make. It doesn't get a bit easier. If you want to know what my religious convictions are now, they are to keep busy, to keep healthy so that you can do all you should do for your children, and to get to bed early at night so that you don't have time to think."

And there were darker moments she shared as well with Father Richard McSorley. The Jesuit priest confided to a diary that the former first lady mentioned suicide on at least two occasions.

She also wondered how she could ever be the best parent to two children who had adored their father.

"Do I feel guilty about getting over my grief?" she wrote in her neat, fluid hand. "Well I wish I had that problem, because I know now I won't ever get over it, but I am getting better at hiding it from my children."

It was Bobby Kennedy who introduced Father McSorley to Mrs. Kennedy and her children. He died last year and left his papers to the university.

It was journalist Thomas Maier who first wrote about the letters and the diary in his new book "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings."

"We remember her as a beautiful, courageous woman behind this black veil. These papers, the letters, this exchange between Jackie Kennedy and the priest really show the private side," says Maier.

Or as private as this most public of widows would ever reveal.
  • Lauren Johnston

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