Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Why Memorialize Disasters?

The good and bad in trauma memorials and anniversaries.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Does it do any good to memorialize disasters such as 9/11? Do monuments to grief and endless anniversary remembrances re-traumatize us or strengthen our resilience?

For good or ill, memorializing is a part of human nature, says Mount Holyoke college professor Karen Remmler, PhD, an expert in the remembrance of tragedies.

Recommended Related to Mental Health

Work it Out: Dealing with a Difficult Boss

You couldn't wait to get that job -- and now you can't wait to leave, thanks to your boss. It's a situation that is, unfortunately, commonplace. Nearly half of employees surveyed by the national administrative staffing firm Office Team say they've worked for an unreasonable boss. Maybe yours is a micromanager or a bully. Or an insensitive, abusive, or just plain dysfunctional person -- supervising you in a job you had hoped might lead to more meaningful work or greater accomplishments. Believe it...

Read the Work it Out: Dealing with a Difficult Boss article > >

"It is a very human, universal desire to remember the dead," Remmler tells WebMD. "Very often, the only way to remember is to create some kind of space. Altars, for example, or those roadside places where people put up crosses or icons or flowers. It is a way to say we respect and will not forget the dead."

Is this a good thing for people who've been traumatized?

The answer is different for different people, say Remmler and Charles Marmar, MD, professor and chair of psychiatry at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

"There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for trauma and loss," Marmar tells WebMD. "For people who have relatively mastered a traumatic loss or stress reaction, a memorial serves a healthy, healing role. It helps them integrate and remember their experience. So memorializing honors those who are lost and helps the survivors who can manage grief well continue the process."

Some people, however, are not quite as far along in their coping. They may suffer posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Or they may have become stuck in the grieving process.

"For those highly symptomatic, who have trouble coping, who have continuing grief, who still have startle reactions and flashbacks, the anniversaries tend to be quite painful and memorializing tends to be difficult," Marmar says. "At these times they tend to have surges in symptoms and need support."

Alan Manevitz, MD, a psychiatrist at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital, has a unique perspective on the issue. As a first responder who helped carry bodies from the collapsing World Trade Center, he experienced the trauma firsthand. And in his practice he's helped family members and other rescuers cope with their grief and anxiety.

"Americans as a whole have a mixed feeling about wanting to remember things. Sometimes people want to have a few minutes of memory on 9/11 and can't wait for 9/12 to come about," Manevitz tells WebMD. "Still for most people it reflects not just the terrible event but how we handled it with courage and resolve and resilience and that we were unified at that moment in time, that we persevered, and moved forward."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections