The Grieving Process and Establishment of a Memorial

The September 2, 1998 crash of Swissair 111 off the shores of Nova Scotia, changed my life forever. My only sibling, Raymond Romano, was a passenger on that flight. Ray and I were 13 months apart and as children we always had our birthday parties together since our birthdays were three weeks apart. Ray and the boys would be at one card table, and the girls and I would be at the other. This was the late l950s-early 1960s, when life was simple and the tragedies that would affect us later in life were inconceivable. When we were in high school we double dated and experienced our first proms together. I often reflect on those days and think of how devoid our lives were of any tragedies. During our college years, Ray followed in the footsteps of our dad and became a certified public accountant. I went into another field and had no interest or aptitude for accounting. My father and brother were quite amused by my lack of interest in their field, which created many laughs among us. When I got married, Ray gave me away as our dad had died earlier. Walking down the aisle he held my hands in his arms the way he used to when we were 3 and 4 years old.

In the two and a half years since the crash, I can see the progression in myself in the grief process. It is a never-ending process. A few months ago, I had the occasion to meet with members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, through my job in a federal law enforcement agency. When I met with them, I felt the need to express my gratitude to their organization for the way they handled the aftermath of the crash, and dealt with the families.

I realized that day that I needed to do something in Rays name, in Canada, where the plane crashed. I established a memorial fund to be awarded annually to a child or adult who is need of pastoral counseling by the RCMP Chaplains. I designated Rays birthday, July l4, as the date that I will provide annual donations. This date will always remind me of happier times from my childhood.

The date of the crash, September 2nd, will be the annual date the recipient receives the donation.

What I learned from this unexpected experience was that there were still steps I had to take to help myself heal even further. Healing is possible, but it is also a choice. Someone will be helped along lifes journey, in Rays name.

Lynn Romano Zimney lost her brother Raymond Romano, 44, on September 2, 1998 aboard Swissair Flight 111, Nova Scotia, Canada

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