Just like water streaming down a window pane whose path is jagged and irregular because of unseen obstacles, ones' emotional path related to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 may also seem jagged or irregular. Feelings of grief, anger, disbelief, isolation, disorientation, and sadness may come and go in an apparently random pattern.
And some may wonder why after 14 years these feelings are at times worse instead of better.
The effects of trauma, especially mass trauma such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, can be hard to understand or predict and can be escalated by other life situations. Firefighters who have since retired may be feeling an increase in depression, feelings of "life disorientation", and guilt as their role in the firehouse has changed. There is more time to think about the events and lost friends without the responsibilities associated with being "on the job". Parents whose children were too young to remember that day may feel frustrated or angry when their 13 year old can't understand the annual early September morning struggle. Feelings of deep regret may resurface as time insensitively marches on and details of loved ones are very unintentionally forgotten. A friend may be guilt ridden when they acknowledge that they just can't make it to another memorial. Anger may set in when less flags are flying or when interacting with a person who has seemingly "forgotten".
Feelings may increase or decrease, pop up in unexpected places, or go suddenly numb and detach.
It is so important to keep in mind that
while time certainly does heal, it doesn't always heal in a straight line. (Click to Tweet)
So, be gentle and forgiving with yourselves, support your family, be sensitive to your neighbors, reach out to your friends, and be a little extra kind to your fellow commuters ... because 14 years doesn't necessarily mean the hurt is all gone.
With Much Love,
Michelle Cleary, LCSW