“I Remember” || What to Say About 9/11 & Grief

 

For a person in grief, there are almost no two sweeter words than, “I remember …”

Those two words begin stories, spark memories, open old joys, and bring feelings back to us with blazing clarity.

On a day like today I wondered, what would I write for this mortuary blog? what is there to say still about this infamous, monumental, and mournful day? And the only thing that came back to me was this: I remember.

I grieve 9/11 each year. Last week I felt a nausea settle over me as I thought of the day’s events and anticipated it’s coming. We are, so many of us, grieving together today as Americans and as people; people who will never forget the tragedy that unfolded that morning. We connect to each other and to something greater than ourselves on this anniversary when we come together to remember.

And so I encourage you today, to share this image below if you don’t know what else to do.

Join me in remembering this day.

9-11-I-remember

“I just remember looking up and thinking, ‘How bad is it up there that the better option is to jump?’”
New York Fireman
Sept. 11, 2001

“If anyone can hear me, make some noise and we’ll come help you.”
New York Rescuer
Sept. 11, 2001

“We are breathing the dead,
taking them into our lungs
as living we had taken them
into our arms.”
Hettie Jones
New York City
Sept. 11, 2001

“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.”
President George W. Bush
Sept. 11, 2001

“We have met the worst of humanity with the best of humanity.”
Rudolph Giuliani
Mayor of New York
Sept. 11, 2001

Molly Keating

About Molly Keating

Hi, I’m Molly and I write for the blog here at O’Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who’s deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try.
Work at O’Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.
I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

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  • Fitz

    I remember being in my garage exercising and watching TV when the the special news report broke into the normal programming. It was chaotic and confusing at first because the reporters only knew some type of aircraft had hit the building. Within minutes, the second plane hit. At that moment, I knew it was a terrorist attack. A sick feeling came over me as I watched in disbelief as the events unfolded. Our world had changed forever that day. May God bless those who lost there lives and bless the families of those who perished due to such a senseless act.

    Molly, thanks for this blog. We will never forget! Fitz

    • Fitz,
      I love hearing the stories about “where were you when the planes hit?” – I think none of us can forget the details of that morning, where we were, what we saw, and how we felt in those moments and hours, days and still feel now years later.

      Thank you for reading, I’m glad this blog was important to you as well.

      Molly

  • Lori

    Molly,
    I remember being home and a friend was over with her son. She had the news on and I did not get the magnitude of what happened at first. As we stayed glued to the television for the rest of the morning, feelings of fear, anger and sadness were overwhelming. It was evident right away that life would never be the same for us.
    A year later, I would end up working for a doctor who lost a son that day. Coworkers told me of his anguish watching the news that morning and thinking he saw his son trying to jump from one of the buildings.
    My prayers will be with all of the families who have been affected by 9/11……
    Lori

    • Oh my gosh, Lori. It’s stories like those that bring a freshness and vivid color to the terror of that day and what so many went through. I have never heard that story of yours before, I can’t imagine what watching those images must have been like knowing your child was inside … unthinkable.

      I so appreciate your story and others like it, I think it was so hard to grapple with what all of it meant at the time. Hearing stories like that help us understand and bring us closer together as a grieving people who all lost on that day.

      Thank you for sharing,
      Molly

  • Anne

    Molly
    As I was getting ready this morning I was thinking about where I was, helping Pat and Bill with an early morning seminar, but I thought more about something else…
    So many people today are remembering differently, because they got out alive, because they didn’t get to work on time, because they didn’t go at all.
    I know some of them live with guilt because they are alive and someone they loved isn’t.
    Same as the young service personnel who make it through a fierce fire fight and their team members didn’t. Why me? Why was I spared? These are questions only the Almighty can answer. But if we have life, for as long as we have life, we try to make a difference for others, and enjoy every possible minute with gratitude and service.
    9-11 was a time of coming together as a city, as a people, as a nation. Love and support of all kinds was freely given. It brought out the best in us. I remember, but I also remember how beautiful we are as a people. I love America.

    • Anne,
      So beautifully said. It’s incredibly poetic to me that this day designed and plotted to destroy and annihilate could not destroy or distinguish the spirit of America and her proud citizens. Buildings, lives, and families have been forever turned upside down, damage was done and it was terrifying in the most extreme, but it did not tender our resolve, it awakened it.

      There are so many things to be said about this day, so many angles to observe and think about, so many incredible stories, moments and acts of heroism. So many questions left unanswered and so much pain in the wake.

      Yet, we came together, and on that day we continue to do so because of our love for freedom and the country that gives it to us.

      Molly

  • Carrie Bayer

    Thank you Molly, for helping us to remember this day & show reverence for it. I remember my radio alarm waking me & hearing the DJ reporting the events happening but I couldn’t really understand what he was talking about. I turned on the TV & was in complete shock, felt nauseous & numb. I worked at Disneyland at the time & when I got there was turned away along with all the other workers & guests- they had closed the entire park & it’s operations just in case they were a target for an attack. I will never forget… Carrie

    • The world upside down. Carrie, your story is so interesting – I think very few of us here on the west coast experienced any real rupture to our regular activities, many of us still went to school or were able to work, even if we just went there to continue watching the tv for updates and meaning. I’ve heard that 9/11 is the only day that Disneyland has ever closed for any unplanned reason and it terrifies me to think of that place being a target. All of the thousands of people working there, all of the guests going there with such innocent and wonderful hopes – how could anyone target a place like that? And yet, that is precisely where evil would strike and it breaks my heart.

      Thank you for sharing your very real experience of the day,
      Molly

  • Christina Hassanzadeh

    Thank you Molly for taking the time to write about this today. I feel that as time goes on many people seem to “try” and forget or suppress their memories and their feelings from that tragic day. I will never forget where i was, what I was doing, the shock, the fear, and ultimately falling to my knees in tears and praying. I still grieve for those that lost their lives that day, for the families that lost their loved ones, for all of us that lost a little of ourselves through this tragedy. Again, thank you for taking the time to write about this and for reminding us to “remember”.

    • Christina, thank you for your words. I’m so glad you found this blog important and it’s message to “remember” powerful. We are all caught still in a grief that lingers on, we will NEVER hear the date of September 11th and not think of the attacks, the lives lost and the grief that overwhelmed us. I think you are right to still grieve for those families and I thank you for the prayers and tears you’ve shed for them. They’ve mattered.

      Molly

  • Joe Lavoie

    Thanks Molly for sharing , I remember being in disbelief that something like this could happen to our country. This is a day we will all never forget and grieve for the families and their loss. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers on this day.

    Sincerely
    Joe Lavoie

    • That’s well said Joe, very well said. Thank you!

      Molly

  • Jeff Turner

    Molly,
    This is very poignant and touching. The brevity of this blog is overflowing with the words of the heart.

    • This is one of those instances where I think “less is more”. I could never hope to say everything I feel about this day and because of that, and because of my respect for what so many went through and my poor ability to truly understand, I will not dishonor their memories with my surmising.

      I’m glad this touched you & spoke to your heart,

      Molly

  • Michael Thomas

    I was 10 years old, and my 11th birthday was only 2 weeks away. I was packing my stuff into my JanSport (brand new for the new school year), and my step mom came into my room and said that I wasn’t going to school. I went to turn on cartoons, and couldn’t find them. The stations were set on death and tragedy. I will never forget it.

    • A seemingly normal morning turned upside down. Thank you for sharing from your perspective Michael, isn’t it incredible the details we remember from that morning? They seem set in stone, within the solid markers of our memory.

      Thank you for sharing,

      Molly

  • Chuck Ricciardi

    Molly,

    It certainly is one of those moments in our county’s history that you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing at that moment. We had a Grief seminar scheduled that day, Dr. Bill Hoy was facilitating. As an executive team we pondered if we should cancel or if anyone would show up. Then it came to us that this is exactly where we needed to be. Many of the participants did show up, obviously some did not. But together we all talked and grieved as a family and community. It was exactly what was needed. Every year I do remember and am taken back every time.

    Chuck

    • Doesn’t it seem so providential that that day was set on our calendars as the beginning of grief outreach to our community? I think you are 100% correct when you say “we were where we needed to be” – no doubt about it.

      Thank you for sharing, Chuck.

      Molly

  • It’s all about that connection – if we forget our past, I think our future will be doomed. We have to remember, whether that’s done on our own at home or seeking out community gatherings, we all have an innate need to remember and we are so much better for it.

    Molly

  • Shayna,
    You and I are the generation of children approaching adulthood who witnessed these things on television and struggled to process or understand what happened. I believe it is going to fall on our generation (being the youngest to witness these attacks) to continue the stories and keep the memories alive.

    I love hearing your story, it’s so close to my own and it’s so important to continue to tell.

    Thank you for sharing,
    Molly

  • Erin Fodor

    Molly,
    I’ll never forget that morning. Just a year after my dad died, and thinking about all the children who lost a parent, still gives me goosebumps! It’s a day that’s engrained in our heads forever . My heart will always break for the poor families that lost a dear one.
    Erin

    • Erin,
      We all bring our own lenses to these tragedies and yours is so important. I’ve seen so many interviews of bereaved spouses with children who didn’t know how to process what had happened much less explain it to their children. I remember one in particular where the husband died in one of the buildings and had time to say goodbye to his wife. She found out a short time later that she was pregnant. Can you imagine? What a gift and what a heartbreak all at once. That’s what your lens is as well, a tragedy and a blessing because of the compassion it gives you for others.

      Thank you for sharing,
      Molly

  • Becky Finch Lomaka

    Hi Molly,
    I remember that morning like it was yesterday; I think it will be seared into our minds for the rest of our lives. The day that changed the world as we knew it. Our boys weren’t born when this happened yet they too, know the devastation, pain, and grief that the terrorists brought upon too many.

    We all remember and grieve both the loss of lives and the way our world used to be. Thank you for sharing.

    Becky

    • You’re so right Becky. I so admire your intentional efforts to tell the story to the next generation and bring the reality of what happened to their lives. It’s a job we have all been charged with as Americans – thank you for taking it on.

      Molly

  • Kari Lyn Leslie

    Molly,
    Thank you for this tribute. I remember exactly where I was, just as all Americans do in a monumental event. I had a strange feeling come over me also, it was anxiety of the unknown. Every year I am afraid that someone out there will try again. When the sun rises on the morning of the 12th, there is a sigh of relief that escapes from me.
    kari

    • Kari,
      I feel the same way on 9/12 – it makes me think it should be a holiday on it’s own along with Patriot Day. I don’t think any of us have ever felt any terror quite like that morning, I hope we never do again.

      Thank you for sharing,
      Molly

  • Rosemary

    Thank you, Molly, for this touching tribute!
    I still feel stunned and sick when I think of what happened that day, but it is so very important for us to remember. It changed the lives of every family who was directly affected, and it changed all of us forever.
    We must never forget!

  • Elsa

    Great Blog Molly,
    I think we all Remember that day and what that day means to us individually and as a nation as a whole. A day that will be in our minds forever.

  • Amy

    Molly,
    A day American’s will never forget. Our nation changed on September 11, 2001. I still remember that day very vividly and how things continued to unfold right there in front of me. The number of families, law enforcement, fire personnel and many many others are forever scarred. My girls and I talk about it each year and say prayers for those who were lost, those who now have to live without their loved one and those who’s lives will never be the same. Thanks for allowing us to “Remember”
    Amy

  • Mark

    Molly….September 11, 2001 is a day I will never forget….the world as we knew it will never again be the same….but as the history of our great country tells us….even out of the ashes of the crumpled buildings and the downed airplanes we hear about the real heroes…..I am still very proud to be an American…..Mark

  • Christopher Iverson

    Molly,

    I remember driving to work at a mortuary in Anaheim oblivious to the events of the morning. When I arrived to the mortuary, my manager, in a panic, said that we were under attack. I, like many Americans that arrived to where they were going unaware on the hijacking and deaths, thought it was a joke…until we plugged in an old T.V. and all watched in horror as the WTC crumbled to the ground. My youngest brother lost a dear friend when the Towers fell. We all felt the pain of the day and each year reminds us of the fragile nature of life and community.