Journal of Religion and Health

, 50:499 | Cite as

Enacting Remembrance: Turning Toward Memorializing September 11th

  • Billie A. Pivnick
Original Paper


The memorial at the site of the former World Trade Center will open on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 to help us commemorate, honor, educate, and mourn. Memorializing is an act that involves shared memory and collective grieving—aiming also to restore severed communal bonds and dismantled cultural ideals. As such, it is a form of cultural renewal that can transform traumatized mourners into an ethical community of memory. The active rituals of memorial activity utilize both inscribed and non-inscribed practices to help survivors of mass trauma manage fear, disorganization, and helplessness as well as sorrow. To bear witness to horrific events and the suffering they induced is a moral act. To do so together with people who may have seen the events of 9/11 from other perspectives, while also remembering one’s own vision of what mattered, may mean learning to tolerate multiple conflicting narratives about the events’ meanings. It is time to turn our attention from the memorial to memorializing.


9/11 National September 11 Memorial and Museum Memorializing Mourning Collective grieving Mass catastrophic trauma Symbolic loss Pilgrimage Community of memory Memorials Collective trauma 



An earlier draft of this paper was presented at The New Directions Program for Psychoanalytic Writing and Critical Thinking at The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, Washington DC, on April 1, 2010.  I am most grateful to Dr. Dodi Goldman, Dr. Jesse Geller, Dr. Lee Salamon, Dr. Christine Erskine, Dr. Yehuda Levy-Aldema, Mr. Tom Hennes and Dr. Michael Harty for their astute comments on other early drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Counseling PsychologyColumbia University Teachers CollegeNew YorkUSA

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