September 11th, 2017
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National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City

“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops.

The same is true of the laugh.” ~ Samuel Beckett, Waiting For Godot

All of us carry images in our minds that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

I think it is safe to say that some of the images we will never forget include the events of September 11, 2001.

While this horrific event and the thousands of lives lost during that tragic day happened 16 years ago, the unspeakable acts of terrorism and the selfless acts of kindness which happened over and over on that day give us a window into the conflicting faces of humanity.

Good and evil happening simultaneously.  Over and over.

For those who grieve the loss of a family member or friend today, I imagine it will be a day when the poignant memories of a shared lifetime with their deceased loved one will flood back into their thoughts at inopportune times; all jumbled up and messy, like a home movie jumping from one scene to another as though spliced together with no transitions.

Parts of conversations will also be recalled.  The way the person looked that morning, what they were wearing, what they might have been eating, as everyone was getting ready for work and saying good-bye on a crisp and clear September morning to begin another day just the way they had the day before.

I am not trying to state the obvious.  Not at all.  I am trying to empathize with others lost in their grief today and how today will feel for those who sadly lost a loved one 16 years ago; when thousands were killed as a coordinated series of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers in New York City,  collapsed the western side of the Pentagon in Washington, DC and led to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA, shattering America’s sense of security.

Minute by minute.  Step by step.  Each person has had to figure out how to deal with the pain of someone being ripped from their lives and to try and figure out how to go on, how to rebuild their lives without the company of their beloved family member or treasured friend.

“There’s no single path to resilience.   Different people take different steps towards being resilient,” says Russ Newman, Ph.D, J.D.  “The key is that each individual draws on their own strengths and finds what works best for them in putting together a strategy to walk down the road to resilience.”

Human strengths and human frailties live side by side, revealing to us in a dramatic way the resources we can draw from in our personal journeys which are crucial to finding a way to bounce back from a catastrophic event such as September 11 and other horrific hardships such as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and then test us in ways we never imagined.

Emotional resilience doesn’t always come naturally and it isn’t something that we always feel right away.  But emotional resilience can be developed and if we develop a healthy support system and give ourselves time and quiet space, it can be discovered within ourselves.

I try to always remind myself that the most powerful kind of healing is what we do for ourselves, by our own thoughts and actions, by the way we live.

Reach out today and give of yourself.  Lovingly remember someone in your life who is deceased.  Share a funny story.  Shed tears over a special moment.  Give someone a spontaneous smile or hug.

We can lift each other up for tears and smiles are all part of healing.

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