As with any tragedy, there comes a time to observe the traumatic event’s anniversary. Many people believe that grief will wane with time. However, feelings of anger, guilt, isolation, loneliness, sadness and despair often occur long after the disaster.
On the anniversary of the September 11th disaster, many people find themselves once again contemplating the event and its tragic consequences.
Life threatening trauma, including learning that a loved one has been seriously injured or killed, can provoke unsettling emotional or behavioral reactions over a long period of time.
We always say: First there’s the crash, then the lifelong impact.
For many victims the anniversary of a tragic event, no matter how many years have gone by, may make the loss more real and bring out a rush of emotions. Often the pain increases and becomes more intense following the first anniversary. This is a normal reaction. Grief is a journey and everyone grieves in their own way.
- Talk. Unspeakable trauma becomes more manageable when it’s verbalized. Individuals who were personally affected by a tragedy, but have not talked to anyone should seek support. Those who were not personally affected but are experiencing some hypersensitivity, should also talk to someone who understands trauma.
- Honor individual differences in trauma reaction. Your way is not the only way. Respect the different ways in which people continue to cope. People cope the best way they can.
- Reach out and remember those more directly affected. Many people who are grieving feel that friends, family, and their community have “forgotten” about them. This can lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness. Reach out and listen to their stories. Although they may say the same things over and over, honor these experiences by listening rather than giving advice or telling them that “time heals all wounds.”
- Do something to help. Recognize the possible reactions to the anniversary. Remember that those directly affected may not be the only ones to experience anniversary reactions. Emphasize that people can be helped by small deeds. Plant a tree or perennial plant in memory of a loved one who died or in honor of someone who was injured.
- Seek professional support. Recognize that grieving is normal, but encourage people to seek professional support when they need it.
If you are struggling with grief, call 877.MADD.HELP to speak with a victim advocate, day or night.