On this 20th anniversary remembering 9-11, we are once again reminded of all the loss we experienced on that terrible day. In 2015, I visited the 911 Memorial. I walked around the walls and read names -names of people I never met but whom I knew were someone’s brother, mother, father, aunt, etc. It was moving, and I was flooded with sadness. These were average Americans, at work, doing what they did most every day when suddenly everything changed.

Twenty years ago, I saw it all unfold live on television because I was having my car serviced at the Jeep dealership that morning. The TV was on. No one in the waiting room was really watching. I looked up at the news report and saw a plane very close to the towers. I thought the pilot must be having a heart attack or medical emergency. The room was quiet. All eyes were now on the TV as the reporters tried to make sense of it. They couldn’t. We couldn’t. It was inconceivable. And then the second plane… people running, ash falling, and I thought of friends and family in NYC and wondered who was safe.

Trauma has a way of staying with us. Our vivid memories are usually associated with strong emotional events that produce fear, love or rage. It’s like we take mental snapshots during those highly emotional times and those snapshots stay with us.

So this weekend, as you review those snapshots in your memory, remember to pray for the families who lost loved ones, for the first responders and all those affected by the ash and smoke. It was a day of tremendous suffering with moments of incredible bravery and survival. But for the families who lost loved ones on 911, their lives have never been the same. I know, as I too lost a brother from a different terror attack. He’s missing at graduations, weddings and family celebrations. I miss our relationship and at times, wonder how different it would be if he was still alive. Anniversaries are hard days.

Thankfully, we eventually heal; we hurt less, but the loss remains. We don’t forget. But we may need space to remember. Remembering is good. Remember the good times-those family vacations, birthdays and celebrations, the funny conversations around the dinner table…allow those memories to surface. Sharing grief is how we heal. And if you know someone who died on 911, send the family a note and tell them you are thinking of them.

Despite all the loss, we hang on to hope. Revelation 21:4 reminds us that one day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” And we will once again see those we love. Our tears will be gone and our grief will cease. Until that time, comfort those who need comforting.

Grieving Our Losses