Ways to cope with 9/11 anniversary
Twenty years ago Saturday, on a lovely, tranquil day, the world changed forever.
Two planes hijacked by Islamic militants flew into and destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, a jet slammed into the Pentagon just outside of Washington, D.C. and a fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Almost 3,000 people perished that day.
With Saturday's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. comes a reminder of all that was lost, as well as horrifying images from that fateful day. For some, the anniversary can bring up a wide range of emotions including anxiety, panic, fear and anger.
Dr. Rachel Strohl, a senior psychologist with Stress and Anxiety Services of New Jersey, said while some of these feelings may be very unsettling, it’s not a good idea to try and repress them.
“That is not going to make us feel better, it’s very important that we know that when we push things down, they often come back up,” she said, adding that a better and healthier approach is to learn how to cope with and process the emotions we experience.
Strohl said many people who experienced the horror of 9/11, even just from watching the events on TV, may struggle with feelings of loss of safety and security, but it’s important to reestablish those things and gain an understanding.
“Things happen in this world that are uncertain and upsetting and awful, but terrorism is rare and that we want to live our life with some sense of safety and security,” Strohl said.
She said when negative and painful feelings are reawakened, how we cope with them is important, adding that each individual needs to find what works best for them.
“Whether they need some time alone and reflect in a journal and write about it, if they lost someone they could look at pictures or memories," Strohl said. "Other people are very social and they tend to want to express their grief in a service – they want to get family or friends together. There’s many services each town holds, there’s ceremonies to honor the lost ones.”
She suggests sitting down and reflecting on “what is meaningful to you and how it’s best that you want to cope, whether alone or together with friends or family.”
Strohl pointed out while different people will cope with emotions in different ways, it’s not a good idea for people to rely on drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
“It’s important that we stay attentive to healthy coping,” she said.
Strohl also said it’s important to not overload yourself with the horrible visual reminders of the 9/11 attacks.
“When you feel like you’ve seen the images of 9/11 and you’re starting to be emotionally affected, it’s okay to turn the TV off,” Strohl said. “Take it in, honor it, respect it, and then decide when it’s too much for you and that’s okay to redirect so you’re not overwhelmed with these graphic images.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at firstname.lastname@example.org.