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Monday, September 9, 2013

Motivational Mondays: Remembering 9/11

Thought for the Day: In two days it will be another anniversary of 9/11. As with all anniversaries of loss, I encourage people to take time to reflect, commemorate & remember. Otherwise, the anniversary arrives & we find ourselves upset, not knowing why. I believe that 9/11 will always be a significant day for those who witnessed the horrific event, whether they were in New York or anywhere in the world. We were all traumatized by the images which were broadcast live in real time.

As a psychologist, I continue to explore how it impacted on my clients & ask them about it routinely in initial sessions. Even though most people are coming for other issues, often they do not realize that 9/11 may play a part in what they are experiencing. Some never spoke to an old friend's parents after they learned their friend perished in the tragedy. After a while, they did not know how to reach out to them. Other people moved on, but witnessed things that day & never spoke about it, until they came to see me. One client who came to see me about a year after 9/11, came because his life was in shambles. He was drinking, had had an affair & almost lost his marriage. He had escaped the towers & did not realize his issues were connected to the trauma. He was able to save his marriage & put his life back together. Every year, I hear from him around 9/11.

I feel it is important not only to remember the sadness that it caused, but also the positive things that have occurred because of 9/11. The nonprofit organization, New York Says Thank You has dedicated it's work to giving back to communities hit by natural and man made disasters. There are organizations sponsored by 9/11 widows that help widows in Afghanistan, who do not inherit their husband's wealth in their culture and therefore struggle to make a living.

I also remember a chance encounter with a stranger the weekend after 9/11. I was working in Boston. Everyone was on edge & anxious. I went into a small deli the size of a postage stamp. There was very limited seating. I was sitting alone at a table for two, when a big black man asked if he could sit at my table. He was there with his family, but there was not enough room for them to all sit together. I could tell from his accent that he was not an American, so I asked where he was from. He told me he was from Ghana. I asked if he had family back in Africa & how they had reacted to 9/11. He said they were scared, until they were able to speak on the phone. Then he told me that 2 of his good friends were killed in the attack. They had been his classmates at Harvard Business School & worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. I commiserated with him & said it must be hard to be so far from home when such terrible things happen. I could have remained silent that day & never known what this man was going through, but I somehow felt compelled not to give in to fear or prejudice even after such a terrible event.

Where were you on September 11th? How did it impact you, your family? How will you commemorate the day?

Thanks to the Westport Public Library for the use of a great mac laptop while mine is being repaired!

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