This past Friday was 9/11. A day remembered by our nation as one of the darkest days in American history. A day so impactful that most Americans remember exactly where they were and what they were doing the moment they heard the horrific news. Countless men, women and children lost their lives that day. Our country went into a united state of mourning. Tears were shed for those innocent lives that were taken too early. As the years have passed we continue to remember that monumental day and those we lost.
When I think about 9/11 my mind wanders to all the family and friends of those who lost their lives that day. I think of the pain and grieving that took place following 9/11. As a counselor I have repeatedly heard the old adage “time heals all wounds.” Unfortunately, the truth is that time does not heal wounds. Fourteen years have passed since that tragic day and for many the pain is as real today as it was fourteen years ago. What time does offer is the opportunity to process the pain and grieve the loss. One of the most difficult things I’ve had to say to a client is that we cannot wait out our grief. In order to heal we must walk through the pain.
A fear often expressed by my clients is that they will forget the person they have lost. They feel that they are betraying the memory of their loved one if they begin to heal. I assure them that this is not the case. Our mind is an amazing and fascinating muscle that allows us to compartmentalize. It’s as if our brain is an intricate filing system that permits us to store memories and retrieve them as needed. Healing does not equal forgetting. It allows us to remember those we’ve lost while being able to continue to live day-by-day.
Just as we are distinctly individual so is our pain and grief. Everyone’s grieving process looks different. The amount of time one needs to process grief and the stage of grief a person is in cannot be compared to anyone else’s. As I walk alongside those that are grieving I remind them that the healing process opposes our innate desire for immediate gratification. Being patient and allowing room in our lives to grieve is the best plan of action.
As a nation we have grieved, mourned and, eventually, rebuilt after the tragedy of 9/11. Our healing did not happen because we forgot that day, it developed by people uniting through remembering. If you have lost someone you love allow yourself to grieve, allow yourself to mourn, and allow yourself to heal. You will not forget your loved one; rather your memories will become even more precious over time.