BOOKTRIB: September 11 remains a difficult day nationally and individually. How can we continue to honor those we lost without losing ourselves in grief?
FRANCINE VALE: The creation of day-long memorials may rekindle the heavy burden of grief more than is necessary (or healthy) for some people. Those who feel the national day of grief to be personally overwhelming or intrusive should allow themselves to disengage from public memorials and observe the day privately in a way that is meaningful to them.
It is healthy to express our grief, yet unhealthy to lose ourselves in grief. Engaging in meaningful activity that connects us to our loved one helps us grieve in a meaningful and even satisfying way. Spending time in nature, or attending a small local memorial, carries dignity and grace. In quietude, we may feel our loved ones near to us. Signs that your loved one’s spirit is with you might manifest as feelings in the body, such as vibrations. Signs of the presence of spirit are feelings that your hair or shoulder is being lightly touched, or even an awareness of a spiritual presence. Being calm and quiet in private allows us to feel and experience inner knowing and a sense of comfort that are difficult to access in the crowded public arena. Reading our loved one’s letters, or passages from their favorite books, are also ways to bring their essence close. In these quiet, personal ways, we celebrate the life of our loved one and mark the day with dignity without becoming lost in grief.
It would add greatly to the light of our nation if we Americans recognize that war does nothing to heal tragedy and its ensuing grief. It is only through learning to love one another that we can find true healing. Learning to love one another would be the greatest honor we could bestow upon our lost loved ones, for they are in a place now where all is love, and this is what souls desire for humanity.
BT: Over a long time we begin to forget details about someone we lost. Is there a way to keep their spirit close to us?
FV: To keep memory alive is a holy gift we bestow upon our departed loved ones. We can set ourselves the task of recording all that we remember of our loved one and the special love and life we shared when they walked beside us and brought happiness into our lives. Once we begin the task, memory floods through us and assists us. Photographs, as well as conversations with family and friends, assist the fading memory. On occasion, the spirit of our departed loved one will come through in dreams, or even stand beside us as we write. To speak well of our loved one, to bless their memory, uplifts us and moves our consciousness from sadness to joyful awareness.
BT: There’s been so much negativity in the world since 9/11. What can we do as individuals to begin healing?
FV: The question itself offers a clue as to the hidden motive of 9/11. The only antidote is love. We begin by looking within and asking ourselves, do I love this person that is me? Love begins within. Once we understand that, it’s up to us to direct our thoughts toward recognizing the love/light within, and then we may begin to practice this enjoyable awareness. This practice prepares us to see the light in others and to share our love widely. Love grows exponentially. Together, we have the power to encircle our beloved Earth with heartfelt, healing love.