Grieving 9/11 In The Age Of COVID-19
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Grieving 9/11 In The Age Of COVID-19

As a child of 9/11 reflecting on America's collective grief over the past 20 years along with my own for the death of my father, I wonder why we aren't grieving those lost in the pandemic in the same way.

3075
Grieving 9/11 In The Age Of COVID-19
Anna Salamone

When I was one month shy of turning 3, I lost my dad on 9/11. Nineteen years later, I am still grieving the loss of my dad. I am reminded constantly every year of my trauma from national anniversaries, physical memorials, and the outpouring of shares on social media so every Instagram story I flip through from my friends on the east coast is a picture of a gruesome fire or a grainy late-'90s picture of the Twin Towers every day on that day.

Right now, it is hard for me to not feel guilty about my grief because there is a present tragedy at hand.

We talk about 9/11 as a monumental loss to our country. And it was. We lost nearly three thousand innocent lives that morning – we live on in that sorrow and we will never get them back. We honor those who bravely attempted to save the endangered without a flinch, with pure selflessness and a duty to help their neighbor. We are constantly reminded to "never forget" 9/11 and how it devastated the U.S.

In the pandemic of COVID-19 in the USA, more than 190,000 innocent lives have been lost — so far.

Families have had to watch their loved ones suffer, or worse, get turned away from seeing their final moments due to social distancing. On April 7, Business Insider confirmed that the New York death toll had surpassed that of the lives lost on 9/11.

Months ago.

Why aren't we doing all we can to prevent this tragedy from growing?

Some 20 years later, it feels selfish to justify my grief of a national tragedy when one is happening around us and has no end in sight. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Americans united. We showed love and remembrance to honor our dead from being forgotten. We show up year after year for each other physically at memorials, at prayer services with bell tolls that mark the exact minutes of the attacks, and symbolically by reviving the subject in general media and social media. Year after year, we show our collective sorrow.

I have no idea what it would be like to see today's divisive America in response to our struggle with COVID-19 during the aftermath of 9/11.

I have no idea how one could be expected to grieve confidently in a safe environment and feel the support necessary to begin to move forward with life.

I don't see how I would have had the slightest chance of coping.

I grew up in the aftermath of 9/11. It was extremely difficult and unique from anyone else I knew to have to adjust my idea of a normal childhood to fit the life I was now given. I had to process death at such a young age and adapt to understand complex concepts of life (terrorism, death as permanent, etc.) that my developing cognitive abilities weren't ready for on top of my normal day-to-day requirements and life-learning.

9/11 changed the world. I had to hear about the subject all the time as a major current event – it was impossible to escape my trauma. But what wasn't making it even harder was that my peers, my teachers, my community all agreed that my suffering was warranted, and they showed their sympathy and support.

Similarly, this pandemic is actively changing our global society right now, and those fighting on the front lines and those grieving the loss of their family members cannot escape it for a second. They must face their trauma head-on every day, and they still aren't in the aftermath. And they don't get the privilege of getting to grieve in the safety of knowing it is justified. What if I was a grieving 4-year-old in the midst of public tantrums about refusing to give up the "freedom" to bring scissors or a water bottle through airport security? What if my friends' parents talked about how 9/11 was a hoax on the carpool to soccer practice? What if they complained about the time inconvenience and the stupidity of having to pass security checks to enter major NYC office buildings because they don't think terrorism will affect them?

I cannot imagine having to grieve a fresh loss right now because America as a whole cannot agree that this is a tragedy.

As I said, the pandemic has changed the world. This year, we have lost our lives as we knew them. We lost our sense of familiarity and normalcy. Countless citizens have lost homes, jobs, the basic life requirements of food water, and shelter. And on top of everything, we are losing our friends and family. I know we want restrictions to be done with and to access our normal lives again, but without eradicating the threat, the side effect of normalcy is a growing death toll.

Our trauma will only be prolonged. We were so quick to want to prevent 9/11 from happening ever again. We jumped to blaming entire Islamic nations on a senseless attack and moved to barricade ourselves with precautions so they couldn't hurt us again. Yet it is unfathomable for Americans to think that we, the greatest nation on earth, are to blame for our laughable response at containing the pandemic and should acknowledge our mistakes to bring us back to safety.

It's not the layperson's fault, unfortunately. Our leadership is failing us, assuring us with a smile that we aren't in the wrong. So instead, we are letting the buildings burn on, so deep in denial that anything we do as a country is wrong. We continue to blame outsiders for the emergence of the pandemic but ignore our failure to stop it in its tracks. Right now, we are supplying the tragic events – hurting other Americans by refusing to protect each other. We see the burning buildings but we're turning away the fire truck, selfishly prioritizing our own personal conveniences than acting with a duty to love and help our neighbors.

Nineteen years later, I feel almost guilty for grieving because there are so many more pressing issues that threaten innocent lives today.

But I am still grieving because it never really gets easier. I am grieving even harder this year because I ache in empathy for those around me who will soon know the same fate. Their loss will never get easier and being reminded of this world-altering event for the rest of their lives won't help ease the pain. People may be growing bored with quarantining themselves and desensitized to the dangers of outbreak risks, but those who have experienced personal trauma from the pandemic will never be desensitized.

Nearly 20 years later, it seems that people are starting to forget 9/11. My West Coast friends don't understand, and Gen Z is removed from even experiencing it. On Twitter, memes about the attacks are becoming more popular while the taboo shrinks with time passing.

We should still remember 9/11 and fight to never forget. But we should do this by taking action — applying what we learned then to our situation now.

Don't just share a post that says "hug your loved ones a little closer today" because the message you took away is that life is fleeting and you never know what could happen. There are ways we can unite together as we once did and show love to our fellow Americans during our present pandemic. My family's mantra is to "live the 12th" — to live each following day after our pain with the purpose of spreading love and peace. We shouldn't be fighting with our fellow man over whether or not we think we should wear a mask or causing strife with essential workers because our lives have been inconvenienced. Empathy for our neighbors has never been more important.

Never forget 9/11 by preventing further tragedy.

Never forget by wearing a mask and social distancing to decrease the risk of spreading disease.

Never forget by voting against Trump because he has become a ringleader of finding ways to turn us against each other — who has turned safety, health, and love for all Americans into a political agenda meant to tear us apart into a divided nation rather than one united in peace.

Today we grieve, tomorrow we live the 12th.

Report this Content
Rebecca Alvarez

Rebecca Alvarez is many things: founder, sexologist, CEO, mentor, and more — as a Latina businesswoman, each of her endeavors is grounded in the strong principles of inclusivity and diversity, especially in sexual health and wellness. Bloomi is the product of her all of her shared passions, and with it she has fostered a community of like-minded, passionate women.

Keep Reading... Show less

There is not a consistent standard for health education in the United States. There are a lot of variables that go into this — what state a student lives in, whether they go to a public or private school, and the district's funding and priorities. These variables can be argued for any subject, not just health class. But as we continue to grow as a society, hopefully bettering our education system along the way, it's crucial to consider this often-forgotten element of a child's schooling.

Keep Reading... Show less

In March, the whole country shut down. School was online, extra-curriculars were canceled, and I found myself laying in bed all day every day. One day, as I was laying in bed contemplating my laziness, I decided that I wanted to do something to make myself more healthy. I was feeling so down on myself and my laziness so I decided to make a change.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

10 Songs That Made It Onto My September Playlist

September is the month for Los Angeles natives and Australian music fans.

3840

The Neighbourhood, Bad Suns and The Driver Era are three Los Angeles bands that released songs this month. Not only was it a month for Los Angeles bands, but many Australian bands released new music — San Cisco's fourth studio album, Surf Trash single, Skegss single, and High Tropics single. I made new discoveries this month and was pleased by the amount of new music.

Read the listicle below to learn what came out this month in alternative rock music:

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Staying Active While You're Stuck Inside IS Possible, It Just Takes Some Small Steps

I know the last thing you want to think about right now is exercising, but it's time to put down the controller and put on your workout clothes.

612

As someone who has also been living on a bed since March, I can guarantee you that working out has been the last thing on my priority list. It's pretty far down there, along with my motivation and brain cells I used to use for work. However, I have made an effort in the past couple of weeks to move up exercising to at least number three on my priorities list.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Got Clean At A Very Young Age, And It Honestly Saved My Life

At 18, the world looked so much different for me than it did for most other 18-year-olds that I knew.

799
Emmie Pombo

Going into rehab when I was 19 was hands down the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. My addiction started when I was around 17 and spiraled and spiraled out of control, as addictions always do. However, looking back, I'm so lucky my addiction started and ended when it did.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

7 Things Your Partner Can Do To Support You When You Have PCOS

Don't be afraid to ask for help or comfort if you need it.

13960

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may not be totally visible to the eye, which makes it a lot harder for your partner to understand what's going on with your body.

If you are in a relationship, it's important that you communicate your PCOS symptoms with your partner. I say "your" symptoms specifically because everyone's symptoms are different.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

7568
The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.

22197

On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments