The End of Notification
By Dr. Robin F. Goodman, VOICES Director of Family Programs
The Medical Examiner's office has announced they have exhausted their ability to identify any further remains of those who died at the World Trade Center. Although many waiting family members were aware of this possibility, you may have been maintaining hope and found yourself unprepared for the news. The following is some guidance for understanding your feelings and coping with this announcement.
Keep in mind
Everyone's situation is different and your reactions may differ from others. Spouses, children, parents, siblings had different relationships with the person who died and will respond in their own way. People grieve at their own pace and will cope with the news in various ways. Some may be relieved that the process has gone as far as possible and has ended. Others may re-experience feelings they thought had subsided such as sadness, anger, regret. Once again you may feel distant from others - that they do not understand what this means to you. Well intentioned friends and family may suggest it is time to move on and become re-engaged with neglected parts of your life. But you may not feel ready or able to be involved in pleasurable activities. Children and teens have their own way of grieving and remembering. They usually hear and know more than adults realize. They also take their cues about how to react.
Things to consider
You still have choices. Obtain accurate information about the issues and Medical Examiner procedures. Notify the Medical Examiner's office of any change in contact
information or preference about being notified in the future. There is no rush, yet if remains have previously been identified, have your wishes known about where they are to reside. Respect others’ reactions and style. If not done so previously, you now may wish to make decisions about a memorial activity or private site. Decide who and how much to involve other significant friends and family when making decisions. The wishes of children also should be heard and considered. Take time making plans. There is no right or wrong way to commemorate a loved one. A private somber or religious ceremony may feel appropriate. Others may prefer an event that is more celebratory in feeling. You may even have more than one activity. Use your existing support system. Talk to trusted friends, and consider enlisting their help in making arrangements.
If distressing feelings intensify or persist consult a professional. Families are welcome to call the VOICES office to speak with a social worker between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Call the office toll free at: (866) 505-5911 or (203) 963-3911.