On September 11th, each year since 2007, I wonder how many grieving families would appreciate NOT being reminded constantly, all day long, in their social media feeds, on TV, in print, and in every online news outlet that someone they loved is gone.
(*Yes, you read that right, I didn’t say every year since 2001, I said since 2007. That’s because I didn’t have this thought until the year AFTER I lost someone dear to me on 9/11 but not THAT 9/11.)
Losing someone on September 11, in this country (no matter what year) will make you hyper aware that there is no escaping what can only be referred to as the vulgar pageantry of it all. But as hard as it may be to have non-stop reminders of the loss of your loved one when your loved one didn’t pass on THAT 9/11, it occurs to me that it is no doubt, so much harder for those who did.
An anniversary you don’t celebrate
If you’ve ever lost someone dear to you and have had to face that difficult day each year, the “anniversary” of their passing, especially the first handful of years when you cannot for a moment escape their absence, you may also know the secret relief, usually many years later, of passing through that day without those devastating feelings of loss and your grief of that loss being triggered.
You may be familiar with how, a few days later, when you finally do remember that the “anniversary” has passed without you noting it, that you may feel relieved, though a bit guiltily, and maybe even be a little proud of yourself, thinking that you must be getting better at coping with this significant loss because you made it past the “anniversary,” without spending the day crying on and off.
But for those who lost someone important to them on THAT 9/11 (as well as those who lost someone on a 9/11) — that welcome respite is NOT an option. So whether your loved ones were among the 2,996 people killed when the planes hit the twin towers or in the rescue and aftermath that ensued, or you were among the more than 6,000 others wounded that day, or whether someone you loved was among the 6,775 people who die each day in America but whose date just happened to fall on a September 11th, you will not be able to accidentally shift your focus for one year and make it past THE day.
Nope, instead, you will be inundated by cutesy 9/11 frames for your profile picture on Facebook, media outlets looking for that life-affirming where-are-they-now? follow-up story or some fresh angle on the 16-year-old tragedy. You will be bombarded by brands looking to boost their image by hopping on the #NeverForget bandwagon (but #failing miserably).
Not to mention the boatload of incessant chatter you’ll endure from sometimes well-meaning, other times self-serving people everywhere about where they were, what they were doing when, and how they heard it happened — despite the fact that they have no direct connection to the tragedy whatsoever (outside of being an American). *This includes those fiscally conservative Republican senators who filibustered against the Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill back in 2010 (among them folks like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and our current Vice President, Mike Pence) who, at this time each year, look for an easy “patriotic” boost by Tweeting, posting, or making statements about 9/11.
And all of it happens again, EVERY year, like clockwork. But what if you were one of these survivors, in the midst of your very own significant personal tragedy but trying desperately to move on, to have just a bit of peace? What you may want this time of year, instead of being reminded, is to turn off your phone, close your blinds, and be left alone or with the rest of your loved ones, in your grief and remembrance.
Just something to consider . . .
Want to #NeverForget? Make your memorial count.
So, if you want to remember — if you want to honor those who died, who rescued, who survived, who helped on that catastrophic day — please make it count and do it in one the ways that will MOST significantly impact the lives of those who were directly affected by this tragedy, those who are NOT at all interested in the social currency of your hastily posted, blinged out 9/11 profile pics.
Do it by donating your time and/or money to the charities who have been working tirelessly on behalf of victims’ families and who still need your support.
Places to make your 9/11 awareness count
By following the links below and making a donation you can actually MAKE a difference (you can even do so, anonymously):
Tuesday’s Children: Helps families of victims and first responders. Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund.
Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund: “Provides education assistance for postsecondary study to financially needy dependents of those people killed or permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and during the rescue activities relating to those attacks.”
The NYC Police Foundation: Make a donation in honor of the tens of thousands of law enforcement first responders who worked to rescue and treat 9/11 victims.
The FDNY Foundation: Make a donation in support of the New York City Fire department and the many men and women who gave their lives and health as first responders as a result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 as they worked to rescue and treat the victims.
Here’s a more comprehensive list put out today, by Bustle called, How To Donate To 9/11 Charities, Because They Still Need Your Help Today