I will never forget 9/11 or the drive as I was listening to a radio station and all of a sudden heard a description of what was occurring at the twin towers. I even had two friends quickly call me to make sure I knew as I headed into a middle school full of kids who would have so many questions.
Our recent school crisis training and preparation was quickly put to good use. We made our offices available and encourage teachers to keep up with the information in the lounge and outside of the classroom so the kids would not be exposed to the images over and over again.
We quickly modified a parent handout regarding talking to your kids and helping them cope with the worries many would express. We then joined the rest of the school leadership staff fielding calls as worried parents hurried to pick up their children. We worked as a team to identify those that seemed really distressed and might need our immediate support.
Finally after the kids had all left the building and boarded busses, we prepared for the next day as the shock would begin to wear off and came up with a triage plan to address the numerous student needs that would present. We then created lists of our most at risk students to check in on.
It was a long tough day for the entire country. As I look back now, I’m grateful to have been able to serve and support hundreds of children at such a difficult time. I also sit here tonight grateful for peace and pray we will once again find unity without the demand created by tragedy.
This past year I was reminded of the resiliency of our country when I was at Broadway literally a week before it closed because of Covid. My my daughter and I were seeing the play come from away and sat beside a woman who was in the building across from the towers. She shared with me the story of reaching her husband and brother who were all right there and spending seven hours driving home to her small children outside the city. I could still see how much the day impacted her. Both of us were so moved by the story of Newfoundland a small town that hosted many of the planes that landed there for safety. A town that truly understood that everyone was there neighbor and did everything they could to make those people who were stranded as comfortable as possible. May we learn from them to always link arms together and serve our fellow man during tough times.
Afterwards my daughter and I had a great discussion about the storyline and how we as God followers can make such a difference in times like those. Who would’ve known we would’ve been living in such a time days later.
Today being interviewed for a podcast I was asked, “How much do you tell your kids about your own struggles when life is hard?” We talked about appropriate discussions, making sure you’ve already processed your emotions enough with God, a journal or a trusted adult so that you have appropriate intensity and can model a healthy perspective while being emotionally real. It’s also important to end discussions by offering hope even in the midst of the most difficult seasons. Sometimes the hope is not in an immediate change in the near future but instead in the One who has promised to be “for us” always.
I would love to know where you were that day and how you remember and overcome moments of shock and sadness in your own life. We all cope in different ways as we counselors experience so often as we walk beside clients who are faced devastating loss.