Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What We've Learned Since 9/11: Improving our Relationships in the Wake of a Tragedy

In the ten years since the planes struck the World Trade Center, we've learned a great deal about how much we took for granted. In one brief moment, our worldview was altered and assumptions were destroyed. In the days that followed, we grieved for those lost and the families who were trying to cope in the wake of the tragedy. What have we learned during those ten years? What lessons were we able to take from that day and apply to our own lives, regardless of whether we lived in New York, Pennsylvania, or even across the country. Everyone felt some degree of loss on that tragic day, regardless of their geographic proximity.

Never Take the Ones You Love for Granted

Tragedy could strike any day. While it might not be in the form of planes crashing into buildings, it could be a person who was drinking and made the choice to get behind the wheel. It could be an earthquake that sends buildings crashing to the ground. It could be a chance blood clot, wreaking havoc in the lung or brain. The reality is, we are all mortal. You just never know.

Say "I Love You" Every Day

How many people walked out of their homes that morning and headed to work without a second thought? How many people wish they had taken the two seconds to tell that person who is gone forever "I love you"? Don't live with this regret. Never miss the opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to you. Shower them with hugs and kisses every chance you get.

Show Your Affection

In addition to telling the people you love how important they are, make a point of showing them. Hugs and kisses are great, but take it a step further. Do the chores you know they hate doing. Make plans to do activities they want to do. Talk to them about their day -- and really listen.


It can be hard to let go when someone has hurt you. But holding onto a grudge hurts you much more than it hurts them. Let go. It's okay to learn from the experience, but remember that we all make mistakes and bad choices. If you've let those choices stand between you and a family member or a long-lost friend, take this opportunity to call or write and talk it out. Give them your forgiveness or, if you were the one who messed up, ask for theirs. You may not always get it, but you will know that you tried.

Adding these lessons to your life will improve your relationships with everyone you know. You will rest easier knowing that bygones are bygones and the people who are important to you know that, without question, you love them very much.