1. Poleto, Molly A. BSN, RN, CHPN, Vice President, Board of Directors, HPNA Past President, 2000, 2001

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In this past year, we have read editorials, books, and letters and watched television reports about the events of the attacks on September 11, 2001. We have gathered to pray, and sent donations of money and supplies. Some of us gave "hands-on" care to the injured, frightened, and bereaved. Many lessons have been learned from this tragic and far-reaching event, yet we still have more to learn. Although political and military actions have taken place, those of us who work in end-of-life care have a different perspective on what this dreadful day did to so many people. Where are we 1 year later?


Sudden death has its own particular burden. To be taken without warning, leaving no time to say goodbye, reconcile differences, complete life's tasks, or make peace scares us all. Innocent people of New York City, Washington DC, and those on Flight 93 were lost to the world, taken by surprise and by violence. The events that day were unimaginable and quickly became much too real. Have we, will we recover from this day?


In preparing this article, I was fortunate to talk with people directly affected by the attacks. Individuals spoke of their particular circumstances and of their losses and pathway of bereavement. In describing the events of that morning and the ensuing days of the past year, I learned that these people are living their lives in tribute to the lives of those who died.


Dr Nichole Brathwaite-Dingle, a pediatrician who practices in the Bronx, lost her husband in the World Trade Towers. He left behind his wife, two small children, and many other close family members and friends. Nichole is committed to keeping her husband's legacy alive and family traditions in place. She recalls, "My grief is different than that of my children. They have lost a father, I have lost a is different. But I know that that his legacy and the love that we had will lead us forward to a place of healing." Her conversation was positive and devoid of anger or resentment.


John Murphy, a fire fighter, lost three close lifetime friends, men who were ushers at his wedding. All three served in the same fire company from Staten Island and were in the upper floors of the towers when they collapsed. John recalls, "They were just doing their job, doing what they always did. I don't really see the fire fighters as heroes, but just people who were doing what they were trained to do and knew what had to be done." John Murphy will forever be available to the widows of his friends and their families. In reflection of the events that day, John now is working to make improvements in his own community. September 11 has given him a new cause to reevaluate his own community and look for ways to improve it. It is another positive outcome from a terrible day in history.


What surprised me most in talking with survivors of September 11 is the absence of malice, hatred, or anger. They spoke of healing, learning to help each other, improving communities, and living in tribute to the lives lost. Americans now display the flag with pride, visit cemeteries and memorials, and look back on this first anniversary as a day to remember. Those of us who provide end-of-life care remain in awe of those who cope with dignity and pride. By personal contact, we have learned from their grieving that they survive and heal with faith, family, and community support.


When we remember the first, fifth, or fiftieth anniversary of September 11, we will remember the courage, faith, and servitude of Americans and pray for the people who lost loved ones, knowing that they need and deserve our help and love. We will also remember that out of tragedy and loss can come hope, strength, and growth.