It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
I remember my father being particularly saddened by the scenes of destruction in New York City, the first place he called home when he arrived in America. My father had a passion for global affairs, especially those where repressed people were uprising. He wrote many letters to the editor over the years, discussing political affairs not only in his homeland of Northern Ireland but in Africa and the Middle East. He was an avid reader of large tomes on military policy and strategy. I wish I’d had deeper discussions with my father about world events. One of the worst aspects of dementia for my father was losing the ability to read, his favorite hobby.
I hope you’ll have time today to reflect and spend time with loved ones.
The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is coming up and there will be many powerful reports, essays, and accounts written to mark the somber occasion. Remarkable pieces have been published over the years about 9/11, such as The Falling Man. An essay published in The Atlantic recently is one of the most well-written and moving accounts I’ve ever read. On the surface it’s about a family’s struggle with losing a loved one on 9/11, but peeling back the layers with both compassion and clarity, Jennifer Senior reveals much more than meets the eye.
One of the more interesting aspects of the essay to me is the impact that trauma and grief have on our memories. It’s a lesson that may serve dementia caregivers well. Getting the details just right may not be as important as how we are able to process past traumatic events in the here and now. Sometimes remembering a specific word is less important than conveying the meaning and emotion of the message.
Another important lesson learned from this family’s heartbreaking experience is that grieving can cause us to act in ways we don’t intend. Communication can become difficult. It’s important to give those who are grieving space to process what they are feeling. Be a compassionate listener. This essay captures in vivid detail just how different the grief process can be for members of the same family.
The 9/11 anniversary is coming at a time when our nation is reeling from the deadly coronavirus pandemic. There are many of us grieving right now. I would encourage all of us to remember that as we go through our daily interactions. A moment of kindness can make a big difference.