Like most others, I remember the events of 9/11 like it was yesterday. I remember seeing the terror unfold and the lives lost, and the hero’s going into the buildings and some never coming out. I remember the sadness I felt for those personally affected, and I remember wondering how they could ever survive such loss. Each and every one of them inspired a nation who respected their strength and resolve.

As the weeks and months passed I recall news stories focusing on the wives, mother’s, father’s, and children of fallen and I remember hearing again and again how these people are an inspiration and so amazingly strong. Fast forward eight years to my loss, and the loss of countless widow friends, and I notice the same resounding theme of inspiration and strength. While I can’t speak for any other grieving person, I can tell you that my post loss mentality was not stemming from personal strength, but rather a place of shock and numbness. It may have appeared to be strength, but in all honesty, at the time, it was simply survival….fight-or-flight. When all seems lost, you are given very little choice but to be *strong*. You are given few options but to just survive and continue breathing, even when it’s painful to do so. Sometimes hearing people say that I was strong made me feel like I carried a burden. I felt a need to be strong so that others could see me the way they wanted to see me, and ultimately lessen their personal burden. Nobody asked me to be strong, but by telling me repeatedly how strong I was, I felt it my place to be just that.

Today as we honor the memory of the souls lost on this tragic day, remember that those who grieve carry many burdens, and above all else, we should respect their strength, or lack thereof, and understand that wherever they are at the time, is right where they need to be.

For those who lost loved ones on this day may you find a measure of peace and a happy memory of the one you loved. No strength required or expected.