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Objects as social gestures. Sometimes I do wonder, it must be easier to give something material than to try and understand or share in the mourning, or be compassionate. You bring up a key point: that of being present to ourselves and simply ask for what we need.

I find that very hard to ask, but understand how important it is. I still remember the flowers in front of Buckingham Palace after Diane's death. The people's princess. We do need to feel connected - thank you for pointing out the example.

I think that some of it is having the presence of mind to know what you need, and to ask for it when you need it.

As a resident of lower Manhattan, I remember how surreal it was to hear about truckloads of clothing arriving on our shores. It was an outpouring of compassion and hope from all over the US that it is difficult to downplay in any way, and that I'll never forget. Yet WTC attacks hit one of the wealthiest zipcodes in the US. We didn't need clothing. But we probably couldn't and/or didn't articulate what we needed.

Chabad-Lubavitch is the community of the young rabbi and his wife who died in Mumbai. If you looked at their website very early on, there was a polite appeal to the press to leave them to process their loss. And a link entitled "What Can I Do?" While the actions listed pertained to their community, they were inclusive enough for me to feel connected -- and to offer me an action or two that I could take to help.

And today, Chabad.org's site also includes a board where people of every faith have posted condolences and remembrances.

What a brilliant and luminous response to such a sad series of events. A spot of such beauty, encouraging a purposeful and beneficial response.

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