September 11 and Coping with Emotional Milestones

September 10, 2014 8:42 PM

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September 11 and Coping with Emotional Milestones

I was recently talking with a young man about his 9/11 experience. I told him that I had worked on a Columbia University research project with the widows and families of the firefighters and how impressed I had been with their resilience and courage. Robert then told me the following story. It was just one of the amazing stories that show the good in people after 9/11. Robert was not in New York, or Washington, DC, on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was safely at home in his cozy Oregon kitchen, drinking coffee and getting ready for work, when he first heard the news, "The nation is under attack." Robert's younger brother, Max, enlisted in the Army immediately, and served three tours in Afghanistan before returning home. Robert knew that he was lucky to not have lost anyone he loved or knew personally hurt by the events of 9/11, but he still felt awful for two weeks before every anniversary. He had a hard time getting out of bed, and even though he knew it didn't help, he watched endless television retrospectives about the heroes and events of the day.

Robert was overwhelmed not just by the images on TV of the planes striking the buildings and people tumbling from skyscrapers in the endless retrospectives and documentaries shown in the week leading up to the anniversary. He was awed and devastated by the stories of unfathomable bravery, small twis...

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