We join communities throughout Massachusetts in honoring the 9/11 Anniversary. Nearly 3,000 children lost a parent who died from the attacks on September 11th, 2001.
Ten years after losing her husband, Teresa Mathai shared some of her memories and reflections with us. “Ten years ago, on September 11, 2001, when I heard my husband Joseph Mathai was at a conference at Windows on the World at the WTC and missing after the buildings collapsed, I was in shock and overwhelmed. As a mother with two young kids, I did not know how to break the news to them and how to face the uncertain future ahead. Good friends of ours, Joe and Candy Bergantino, suggested that I call The Children’s Room, which I did. Our family will never forget the kindness and loving support we received from The Children’s Room from those early days of this tragedy, and we will forever be grateful for the continued friendship we have maintained all these years!”
Here at The Children’s Room, we work every day to help support grieving families, and we know that the death of a parent or sibling remains one of society’s least understood and least supported issues. Yet we are inspired daily by stories of courage, and stories of families who turn loss into healing.
Teresa Mathai recently helped Boston families record their memories of loved ones when the 9/11 Memorial Museum visited Boston, through a series of audio recording sessions at The Children’s Room. One of those who shared his story was Franklin Ross, whose father died on 9/11.
Franklin wrote a book of poems to honor his father, and his poetry illustrates how creative expression can transform pain into meaning and beauty. His collection of poetry honors the life of his father Richard Ross, and shines as a beacon of hope for others who have experienced a profound loss. We offer a link so you can read more about the collection of poems by Franklin Ross. Franklin has generously offered to donate part of the proceeds from his book to The Children’s Room.
Two women who have become part of our circle of support at The Children’s Room are Susan Retik and Patti Quigley, who were both widowed on 9/11. Together, Susan and Patti have helped hundreds of widows through the foundation they built together, called Beyond the 11th . The Children’s Room is grateful for the generous support we have received from the David E. Retik and Christopher D. Mello Foundation, which in turn has helped sustain our programs for grieving families in Massachusetts.
Our Director of Education and Training, Deborah Rivlin, worked with Boston-area 9/11 families for years. In a Boston Globe article this past week, Deborah reflected; “The loss is forever, you are changed forever, but you learn to integrate the loss into your life. There’s an opportunity that comes, in finding ways to make meaning of the loss.”
As a resource to our community, we offer a list of suggestions for talking to your child about the tenth anniversary, recommended by the National Alliance for Grieving Children.