In just two weeks, communities in both Aurora, Colorado and Oak Creek, Wisconsin lost family members and friends in senseless acts of violence. In the aftermath of tragic events such as these, it is often helpful to receive words of encouragement and support from individuals who share the experience of suffering a personal loss. Please feel free to post your thoughts or messages to the families affected by these two events.
The Anne Frank Museum and VOICES will co-host a 4-session diary writing workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. May 15, 22, 29 and June 5th. The workshop will be taught by Maureen McNeil, the Director of Education at the new Anne Frank Center Gallery in Lower Manhattan. On August 6, VOICES will host another writing workshop as part of its Speaker Series. Julie Maloney, a writer, poet and founder/director of Women Reading Aloud, will lead the workshop in our New Jersey office. Ms. Maloney states, “By moving to the blank page and acknowledging the importance of one’s authentic voice, writing tells us what we didn’t know we knew. It provides a haven where our thoughts, feelings and ideas find clarification.”
I recently had an opportunity to attend a screening of the film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. As a family member, watching the film brought back vivid memories of my own personal experience. It also reminded me of the stories that thousands of husbands, wives, siblings, mothers, fathers and children who lost loved ones on 9/11, have shared with us over the past 10 years. For many of us, images of people falling from the building, the smoldering towers, the memorial service with the empty casket and hearing phone messages brought back the horror and uncertainty we all felt. The boy’s search for the owner of a key reminded me of our search for our loved ones, for their remains and answers to how this could have happened. Despite the passage of ten years and our ability to ” move forward”, there is no closure for most families. We learn to “live with the loss” as best we can. Some individuals have the support they need and are more resilient than others.
Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting my former colleagues at Bridges, a mental health clinic that I worked at in Milford, CT prior to September 11th. As a clinical social worker, I joined their staff in 1994 and was part of a interdisciplinary team providing counseling services to adults and families. I launched their campaigns to promote awareness about the National Depression and Anxiety Screenings days in October and May. During my time at Bridges I attended a conference, where a woman who lost her daughter in Oklahoma City spoke about the affect of the bombing on the Oklahoma community. Her powerful presentation influenced me to begin researching the literature on working with families impacted by traumatic events. Oddly enough I threw the materials out on the Friday before 9/11.