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Silver Linings

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Silver Linings

The anniversary of September 11, 2001 has brought a resurgence of memories of that day. You’ve no doubt thought about what were you doing when you first heard about the unfolding events, and how your life was different afterwards.

This weekend I heard a native New Yorker talking about how his city was altered by the events of 911. He described drivers pausing to allow in other drivers, folks saying, “Excuse me,” when they bumped into one another in the elevator, and more eye contact between people on the sidewalks. And in the 10 years since, the crime rate in New York City has decreased.

I recall feeling hopeful about our country in the months following the attacks, thinking that this would be a time when we would pull together and hit the volunteer centers, rather than the malls. Flags flew from many homes, and we were all a bit more pensive, less negative, and more prone to appreciate one another. The United States had the support of the world! I felt so fortunate at the time that my parents, who live 3,000 miles away, had a scheduled visit to my home in the Pacific Northwest just a few weeks later. It was such a comfort for me to have a few days with them at a time when I was feeling such unease. And then…. slowly things returned to normal. The flags came down, the malls filled, and America returned to her bullying ways.

But for thousands of people, life would never be the same. Some lost spouses, parents, or other loved ones, and others were emotionally scarred by their experiences. Many of these individuals have not healed, but some, miraculously, have thrived in spite of the trauma and loss. What factors may have aided in these recoveries in the face of such grief, loss, and trauma?

It might just be that many of these individuals hold the belief that, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Simplistically, this means that every bad situation has some good aspect to it. The silver lining saying was coined by John Milton way back in 1634 and has not lost its power. But how could a person whose husband died in the attacks of 911 possibly bring forth anything good from this horror?

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Dr. Ellen Walker

Dr. Walker is a licensed clinical psychologist born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Recognizing that there is no one type of childfree adult, Walker guides clients through the positive and negative aspects of childfree living, taking into consideration the different issues faced by men or women, couples or singles, whether gay or straight. She has a clinical practice in Bellingham, Washington. She and her psychologist husband, Chris, enjoy an adventure-filled life with their two terriers, Bella and Scuppers. Learn more on her website 


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11:44PM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

Thank you for this article

7:07AM PDT on Sep 17, 2011

We can only hope the rest of the country also realizes a silver lining from 911

3:44AM PDT on Sep 16, 2011

Since this article and others here presuppose that American pain or suffering is greater and takes precedence over the pain and suffering of all other nations, that American losses should be recouped before all others, that American lives are more dear than any other, that Americans have feelings and emotions for their loved ones or those that were lost which no other human can comprehend or match.

I am a humanist. i am human before i am anything else. A solution is only viable, acceptable and appreciative if it adresses all humans; not just caucasions with white skin.

3:26AM PDT on Sep 16, 2011

I can't say becuause it still pretty cloudy over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Libya. To be fair if anyone is concerned about Americans' healing from an event which by all standards is now dwarfed in the face of the devastation, destruction, pillage, rape and plunder in all countries where it has waged its retributional wars, should also be concerned for the healing of the less fortunate in those countries.

There is nothing that America suffered on 9/11 that these countries have not sufferred since then. What America suffured for a day its nominated enemies endured for ten years. So i think it is slightly insulting to read about healing when so much hurt has been also caused.

If America wants to heal, appologize to the innocents that it destroyed in over 4 countries, return those countries to the best of your abilities to what they were. and forgive them if you still feel they are guilty in the face of all contra-evidence. that should elate you and heal you in itself.

4:54AM PDT on Sep 15, 2011


5:05PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

Every cloud does have a silver lining, you just have to be aware of what it is. Simply stepping away from the over hanging dark cloud helps you to see it! It certainly is not easy, but it is possible.

10:00AM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

Since getting made redundant a fortnight ago I've had so many goodwill calls and messages I feel amazing. That's certainly been a silver lining for me.

9:56AM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

I really feel like your article came at a time to benefit my new plan for me and feel like it is a little silver lining. I am grateful to have read it and found it today. I really believe you are very right that the forgiveness is the lining. It can be a tough road to get there.
Thank you!

9:55AM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

thanks for the article

9:28AM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

I believe, like you explain in the article, that all bad and all good occurences, all our choices make us who we are. Further you explain it's really in the way we look at things that make the tragic or sour situation change or turn around for us. I'm so glad that we are capable of looking every day for the silver lining. I really enjoyed your article and learning this lesson once again.

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