Avery wrote: Hi, I’m fourteen and my aunt died on 9/11 in the second tower that collapsed. She was in her thirties, married to my uncle, and the mom of my two cousins. Every year, my family has a really hard time around now, but I don’t get it. They don’t want to talk about what happened. They never, ever talk about the actual day, the terrorist attacks, and why someone did that to us. They only want to think about my aunt. I mean, I understand that they miss her and want to focus on how good she was. But why aren’t they angrier at the people who did this? I’d like to talk about it. I lay in bed at night a lot of times and wonder if it could happen again. But no one will talk to me about it.
(This question came in this morning and Natalie and Emily are off at school, but I didn’t want to let the day pass without posting my thoughts. Hopefully some other readers will have some advice, too.)
Avery, I’m so glad you wrote, and I’m so very sorry for your family’s loss. It’s a true tragedy that must be so difficult to face very year as the anniversary approaches. Traumas like this can be very difficult for people of all ages, probably even more so for those who were adults at the time of the attack. Many suffer from anger and fear that goes beyond even the grief because they were impacted in a different way than someone who was a child at the time.
Also, on this day every year, media coverage about the attacks makes it so much more vivid and puts many of us right back into that moment when we first learned of what was happening and perhaps watched with eyes glued to the television as the towers fell.
Maybe (and I’m just offering a possibility), just maybe your family has decided to take the day to honor your aunt and not focus on the attack, the fear, the country, and the terrorists. Maybe they want to pull back from all of that and make the day about her. That’s perfectly fine–everyone, every family, has to find their own way to grieve and remember.
So, here’s my recommendation for you:
Pick a different day–random, unattached to the events of 9/11) and have a talk with your parents. Let them know how confused you are and how you need to talk about what occurred. Ask the questions you need to ask apart from the actual day since it seems pretty clear they’ve chosen to approach 9/11 in a way that gets them through it. Let them know that you want to honor your aunt in whatever way they choose, but that the 9/11 attacks impact you and have left a scar on you, too.
My prayers go out to you and your family.
For a really powerful 9/11 tribute that asks the question, “Where was God?” listen to this podcast. It’s at the end–a very powerful few minutes.
What advice do you have for Avery?