Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

"We Will Never Forget..."

Monday, September 16, 2013
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Last week was the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our country. Loved ones were left behind to grieve the loss of people important to them, while the Nation grieved collectively for them. It is difficult to grasp what they must have felt after losing someone in such a violent, public, extreme, sudden manner. I remember weeping for those who died, and feeling overwhelmed thinking about those left behind. Unimaginable.

With media coverage marking the 12th anniversary, the resurgence of “we will never forget” came to the surface once again as it has in years past. The first anniversary brought back so much with regard to memorials, ceremonies and other public remembrances. As years went on, the coverage diminished. “We will never forget...” seemed to fade in intensity. The 10th anniversary had more of a benchmark feel, with articles about the children born after 9/11 whose parents died that day, interviews with spouses, children, or parents of those who died, and blurbs with the feel of “look how time has passed and the surviving family members have moved on in the 10 years since that day.” Time creates a distance, and the memory of that day, and those lost, seems to fade for those not directly affected by it. When we are reminded, we renew the vow “we will never forget,” but human nature tells us that we will, because we are so engrossed in our own lives, it becomes difficult to remember those of the lives of others.

Death is a personal thing. To a person grieving, it is all consuming. It fills most or all moments with questions, emotions, pain, and uncertainty. Those who love a grieving person, want to support, comfort and help them, but don’t always know how. Because death and loss ARE so unique, until we have experienced our own loss, we don’t understand. I’ve had to admit that everything I thought I understood about losing someone close to me was complete crap when compared the reality of actually having lost a spouse. People say well meaning and intentioned things to make the other person (and more so themselves) feel better. They promise to be there, to help in any way they can, to do whatever is asked of them, and to never forget.

It’s been my experience that most never follow through on that promise. It’s not done with malicious intent. It’s not uttered to placate the grieving. It’s made with the best of intentions. People usually mean it when they say it. But life gets in the way, and people go back to their own struggles and issues. Once in a while they think “I should really call and see how he or she is doing,” and perhaps they do. In the day to day living, it’s hard to remember. On an anniversary, or other significant day, people may take small moments to contact you and let you know they are thinking of you, and that they will never forget the loved one lost. And they mean it. It’s just overwhelming to think about every day. I am a widow, and have been widowed for 5 years. I vowed to never forget. I haven’t. But I must confess that the manner in which I remember has changed over time. The daily pain has been replaced with a more welcomed ability to remember the happier things. I compartmentalize the way I acknowledge the loss. Like the verbalization “we will never forget,” over time, grief has faded, until I bring it to the surface on significant anniversaries, and remember how committed I was to it. And so just as the media reminds us of the promise “we will never forget,” we grieve in a way that is not so all encompassing. Those who lived through loss of 9/11 will always remember in their own unique way, just as any of us will remember in ours. But we all share one common thread...we are all grieving the life of someone we vow “we will never forget.” And we will make good on that promise.

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