911…The ever aftermath.

How did you feel while you viewed the 911 ceremonies? I’m sure you felt the loss, the deep and immeasurable sadness as I did. I could not watch for long; it was just too much. The mass outpouring of grief moved me, and I’m sure everyone else who was witnessing it to recall the horrific incidents that shattered lives and took so many from their loved ones. I shared not just what was being experienced on Sept 11th as if it was that day all over again, and the aftermath of grief, but it re ignighted the intensity of of my own experience of loss and grief; for we cannot disconnect our own grief from that of others; in it we are all as one and somehow feel the weight of all those who have ever grieved upon our hearts.

Sept 14th is a day of sad remembrance for me and my family; it marks the 15th year since my son Randall left our physical world. I spent more time than usual connecting spirit with him that day; that day cannot pass without happy and sad memories coming into clearer focus, and the pain I’ve learned to live around comes to the forefront once again. I’m glad I didn’t have to share my grief with millions watching on, no matter how compassionate they are. Not just because I’m basically a very private person, also because it doesn’t comfort me to draw others into my grief and cause them to feel helpless to console me.

The truth is I have mixed feelings about all the public grieving and mourning; I don’t mean the kind that is expressed at the funerals family and friends attend to show their respects and say farewells while they try to comfort and support those whose grief is so new and intense. I mean those kinds of commemoration ceremonies that occurred on Sept.11th 2011, because the terrorists are rejoicing in our grief as we are showing it in high-definition world-wide via all the media; they have no compassion for the flood of tears and openly expressed pain, they are glad of it. They know we value all life and they are rejoicing in that we are still stricken by what they perpetrated: It causes me to wonder, would it not be best to mourn privately for that reason; and also not subject those who lost loved ones to the public rituals of remembrance that surely evoke anew the pain while giving the terrorists a sense of accomplishment?

It must be so difficult for friends and family members to go through public rituals to honor the dead, to have to face crowds of other mourners, to experience the accumulated grief… to feel obligated to listen to all the speeches, hear all the names recited again. Is it all therapeutic? It might be for some to have acknowledgement of the enormity of their loss, perhaps find succor in so much compassion; for others it is simply too awful to contemplate.

We have to think carefully about the meaning of those ceremonies, and the purpose they serve. Is it a good thing? Does it help heal or evoke once again the intensity of grief and prolong it? Can we not honor the dead in a way that doesn’t bring back the horror and doesn’t keep the grief painfully alive?

Memorials are constructed in every society, we all know why. They give the message “lest we forget” (as if we could), while naming and remembering those whose lives were lost. They are giant gravestones engraved with words of sorrow, they are made to withstand the sands of time and remind generations yet to come of who has died, how when and why. Have they ever prevented a war, or brought peace where war is being raged? They seem not to be lessons learned from the past; they prove only that history repeats itself and that human kind has learned little about how to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors and those who do not share their beliefs.

Yes, we can and do go on, though not exactly undaunted. And no we won’t forget. Nor will the terrorists, for they too can see the negative impact of their heinous acts in our every day lives. It motivates them do more of the same. They see, as we do the havoc they have wreaked and the changes that it’s made to our sense of security. In that they seem to have won a battle of sorts; they have limited our freedom to some extent. Our lives changed irrevocably on Sept 11th 2001. However, the extremists and the terrorists have not and will not win the war they have initiated to try to force us to adopt their own distorted concepts of right and wrong, to destroy those who they refer to as infidels, and believe in so doing they will go to heaven; and also hope to instigate political and policy changes.

We all also know that freedom isn’t free. We pay dearly for our many freedoms; i.e. freedom to choose how and if to pray, if to love and serve God, to believe or not believe, and choose our own spiritual paths, to deny that is naïve. We watch and are watched since 911. We are subjected to search and so much of our privacy has been lost. But what the terrorists did not know then and may never accept is that to create terror and death does not change our minds or what we believe in, and the punishment they deal out to us for our principles will never cause us to join their sects or support their extreme and inhumane views. They will not win our hearts and minds through violence; they will not change our democratic form of life, or our global efforts to insure that all human rights are respected and protected. Their acts of terror and destruction only cause us to cling more determinedly to our own faiths and insistence on respecting individual free will.

So, let us stay aware, not only of what is lost while we view the memorials and hear the eulogies, but what we still have that empowers us and what sets us apart from those who would harm us for who we are, what we believe in, our values and how we live. Grief is not diminished when shared I’m afraid, and memorials and ceremonies do not heal or ameliorate our pain. Only our focus on life and the living diminishes to any useful effect the power of loss.

And on a lighter side…. The following photos were taken by Don . Can you guess what they are? Find out on my next blog.

TTFN and all the best from Elaine Kissel.