When is it Time to Just Let Go? Ten Years Later

Well, clearly most blog posts around the world today will be about the World Trade Center events back ten years ago.  It’s natural and understandable.  In some ways, our lives are measured in the big moments that we remember.  Mine include Elvis Pressley’s death, the Challenger space shuttle explosion, the first Iraq war, and of course 9/11.  For each of these events, I can tell you a vivid story of where I was when I heard or saw the news.  I can recall in explicit detail the immediate aftermath.

Already here in Jordan the non-stop 9/11 specials have started.  El 3atal and I watched a couple of them.  One was about the aftermath… the what came next.  They talked to several survivors about their experience.  We’re not talking people on the 10th floor, we’re talking people on the 75th floor.  One of the people they spoke with was badly burned and spent a long, long time recovering.  In fact, listening to his halting recollection and the pain that he has in talking about the event even now makes you wonder if he’ll ever have a full recovery.  And it got me thinking about something.  At what point do we accept the event and the lessons we learned (right ones and wrong) and move on?

I read that one of the family members talked about feeling like with a regular death, there’s a proper mourning period and then life goes on.  You mourn in private on anniversaries.  Each year, on Good Friday I say a prayer for GrandTeta Bean.  No one mentions it to me.  We don’t get together and recreate… either her life or death.  We each have a private recollection of her, but the sting is gone.  And yet, with 9/11, you are supposed to mourn, in public, every single year.  This isn’t just an anniversary, it’s the anniversary.  If you are a family member who lost a loved one, it seems like we somehow contribute to an almost cult of forced mourning.  In wanting to process our grief, which is honestly neither terribly close nor terribly personal, we force family members to relive the horror of watching a building collapse with their loved one in it.  We force them to remember the agony of days, months even, waiting to know if their loved one was alive.  It’s not our intent to turn it into a macabre sideshow, but somehow it’s human nature.  There’s a reason we say that people love a train wreck.

So, ten years is a very big anniversary in many ways.  But, I’m hoping that after this year’s hoopla is done, perhaps the families can be left to mourn privately with less show and more feeling.  After all, how would it be if, on each anniversary of a loved one’s death, we were forced to watch a video of their last moments?  I think that now it’s time to let go…

Happy Acceptance…

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