By On September 8th, 2014

Ground Zero: Jars of Emotions and the Strength and Courage of the American People

Written by: Lydia D’Ross, MPA, licensed and ordained minister, Outreach Chaplain for RENEWAL at Brookhaven Hospital


Do you ever get a feeling that something is about to go wrong, but, in seconds, you find yourself shaking it off and ignoring it? Or maybe there has been a time when you were thinking of a loved one, and you pick up the phone to reach out to them, but there was no answer. It was that kind of day on September 11th, 2001. Can you recall where you were on that day, and what you were doing?

I remember that I was driving to work, and I sensed that something was just not right. Immediately after I arrived to work, one my co-workers said to me, “ Lydia, you’re from New York, right? “ and I replied “yes, why?” My co-worker said, “You need to turn on the news now.” And when I did, every channel was covered with stories about the attacks on the Twin Towers.  My first reaction was to call my family, and just as suspected, I received no response. After 12 hours or so, I finally reached my brother, and he said he was late to work that morning, otherwise who knows what might have happened to him that day.  We hear stories like this all the time about people who called in sick, arrived late or who, by happenstance, managed to avoid being at the location when the attacks occurred that day. But for others, 9/11 cost them their lives and caused many ripple effects of emotional trauma and distress.

It did not matter where you were, or what you were doing, all over the world, our community, our neighbors our friends and families–we were all emotionally affected.

As we know, around the anniversary of 9/11, the media will discuss the attacks and their aftermath in depth. This year, the names of the victims will be displayed at the commemorative site in New York. It is also okay to talk about the heroes and their heroic deeds.

For Pastors, as you have talk with your church members this week about 9/11, look for changes in mood, behavior and daily habits that appear to be out of the norm. 9/11 affected us in many ways. It permanently changed our society. Many people questioned their beliefs, and wondered if their faith makes a difference in their lives. At the same time, 9/11 also triggered a hunger for a belief system, and the kind of faith in God that can stand in the face of good as well as inexplicable evil.

As pastors, we must be on alert of emotions that trigger unhealthy behaviors, such as substance abuse, self- harm, depression and mood shifts that members of your congregation may share with you about themselves, family members or friends.  No matter what the situation is those symptoms and behaviors can warrant professional attention.  Finding qualified mental health professionals who incorporate a faith-based approach can be difficult.  The RENEWAL program at Brookhaven Hospital is available 24/7 and is here to help.

As we approach the anniversary of 9/11, let’s remember the spirit of unity that came out of that tragedy, and that each one of us can play an important part in honoring the lives of the men, women, law enforcement members and First Responders we lost that day.  Everyone’s story counts. It is important that we take the time to share our story. Sharing your feelings honestly in these discussions with your family and children will help create a trusting environment.

If the anniversary of 9/11 evokes feelings that are overwhelming or difficult to manage, our Renewal Program is a resource for pastors, but also here for anyone who is seeking additional help.

We would like to hear from you, so please share with us where you were on 9/11.


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