Creative Commons Photo/Imelda
If you are like me, you feel the pain at this time every year. Of course nobody grieves more on this 15th anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack than the families and friends of the nearly 3,000 people who died on that day. In addition even more names have been added to the casualty list as civilians and emergency responders have died as a result of exposure to the toxic dust they inhaled in the aftermath. Those who knew and loved these men and women grieve the deepest, but it is very normal for those of us who didn’t personally know them to feel grief at this time as well. Everyone remembers what they were doing and where they were the day everything came to a halt and all eyes were on New York. Even now, on this day, every name is read in a public memorial service.
The greatest loss of life in our nation combined with personal painful losses and can have quite an effect. For me, Fall and the upcoming holiday season cause me to be a bit melancholy anyway. I am not conscious of it but it begins to creep up on me and I recognize it when it appears. To be sure there are many things I love about this time of year and happiness is not a stranger, but I cannot shake a nagging sadness for several reasons–I was married in October of 1988, my late wife’s favorite time of the year was fall, and she passed away at age 40 right before Christmas. I do not intentionally think about these things or dwell on them but they show up anyway. Her absence among my children and family members cannot be ignored at Thanksgiving and Christmas. So for me the September 11 anniversary begins to usher in the feelings. It cannot be stopped and shouldn’t be ignored, but there is a healthy response.
Dealing with grief requires you to fight at times. There is a difference between burying your pain and battling your pain. To bury is to ignore it and will cause only deeper pain for you and those around you. To fight your pain you must acknowledge it, feel it, and make a decision it will not rule or ruin your life and happiness. You cannot will the pain away but you can make a conscious decision the you will not give in to it. The pain can be a fuel you use for change, a reason to fight. You have two choices: 1) dwell in the pain the rest of your life, or 2) embrace the change in your life as a chance for new opportunities. The latter is where new joy can be found. Grief will sneak up on you at times even from events that may not be directly attached to you, like 9/11. It is up to you whether you are going to let the fog of grief move back in or embrace the light that comes from new possibilities.