Musings & Meditations

Reflections on “My Sister, My Grief”

Posted in Family by Pam Keesey on May 4, 2011

I didn’t expect the death of Osama bin Laden to bring up so many feelings, bring back so many memories, of my sister’s death. After all, there was little to connect them. My sister did not die on 9/11/2001. But the feelings came, and the reflections on her death and my grief.

Reading Robert Klitzman’s “My Sister, My Grief,” an op-ed piece in The New York Times, brought those feelings into even deeper focus.

Klitzman’s sister Karen was killed while working at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Like Klitzman, my experience of grief was, in part, deeply physical, something that surprised me as well as my physician. And like Klitzman and his family, my family and I have spent more time together since her death, remembering Jenny and enjoying and appreciating each other. Yes, life goes on, and the palpable absence of a loved one becomes a part of one’s daily life.

Life goes on. But where does healing begin? What does it take to move on, to “get over,” to have closure?

Klitzman writes:

…out of the blue, we learned that Osama bin Laden had died. We were surprised at the large numbers of phone calls and e-mails we received, asking how we felt. We phoned one another. How did we feel?

Decidedly mixed. “It’s anti-climactic,” one of my two surviving sisters said.

Anti-climactic. Yes. I remember the day the man who killed my sister was sentenced. There was such anticipation leading up to the day. And then, the day came, he was sentenced, and I felt…. What did I feel? I expected to feel something. Something like closure. But the experience was anti-climactic. Nothing happened. Except that he was sentenced. And the knowledge that he was going to jail.

I was glad, on some level, that he would have to face what he had done. That he would have to pay some consequence for his action.

Was I happy? No, I can’t say that I was. Relieved, perhaps, and glad to have a momentary respite from the anguish. But not happy. And reminded, once again, that nothing will bring my sister back.

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2 Responses

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  1. John C Stoskopf said, on May 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing Pam. The pain I’ve experienced was over nothing nearly like what you have gone through yet still you allow one like myself to relate with those raw feelings. It helps me anyway, thanks. You are so much appreciated.

    • Pam Keesey said, on May 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks so much, John! I think the pain of loss cuts deep, no matter the specifics of the circumstances. And I think it helps to know that we’re not alone in those experiences.

      You are much appreciated, too!


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