David Brooks op-ed, "the Art of Presence" spoke to me. After the death of my son on 9/11 and the loss of a niece and nephew in other tragedies, I can associate with Catherine Woodiwiss' personal story. She eloquently articulates what so many families experience when they suffer a traumatic loss, whether they lost a loved one on 9/11, in a school natural disaster or suffered a personal tragedy. Grief after a traumatic event is a lifelong journey that transforms our lives. Each of us goes through the process in a different way and in our own time. The recent deaths of my Mother and Mother-in-law verified that subsequent losses can disrupt the healing process, or give us strength and a pathway to move forward. The support of our family and friends is critical as we learn to live with our losses, and create new meaning in our lives. Those of us who have sustained a personal tragedy recognize that there is little understanding about the long-term needs of victims' families and survivors. The public is often misled to believe we have "gotten over it", or that we have "closure" after receiving fragmented remains of our loved ones. Sometimes individuals are referred for mental health care, when they merely need a compassionate listener who understands. In the aftermath of 9/11 we were fortunate to have the invaluable resource of a large network of 9/11 families, and wonderful friendships that are still important today. Mothers who lost children, siblings who lost siblings, co-workers who lost co-workers - we share an unspoken bond and are able to talk about the unspeakable, long after the event is out of the spotlight. My husband attributes the gifts of faith, family and friends as catalysts for our healing, yet often times strangers step forward to offer their support. Collectively they helped us heal by anticipating our needs, bearing witness to our stories, recognizing our challenges, and most importantly celebrating the lives of our loved ones that were so tragically taken from us. The loss of our son on 9/11 was a life changing event that became a teaching moment about the value of the art of presence. Now we have a responsibility to share the lessons we've learned, and an opportunity to pass on the gift of presence to others.