June 14, 2004

As a relative of one of the victims in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, I know that the survivors are too familiar with long-term sorrow. The women of “The Dead Wives Club, or Char in Love” [by Steve Fishman, May 31] need to embrace any happiness and love that come their way. These widows, who have bravely chosen to love again, give inspiration and courage to all those who must carry on.
—Marlene Mare, Bronxville, N.Y.

These women should be ashamed of their behavior. It is a disgrace. They seem concerned only with how much money they have, how much surgery they can have, and how much fun they can have. I feel sorry for them, not because of their tragic losses but because of who they have allowed themselves to become.
—Kerri Condon, Manhattan

I was very moved by “The Dead Wives Club, or Char in Love.” It was interesting and informative, and gave me a real sense of the effects of 9/11 without the sensationalism. It revealed all the stages of grieving, including the wives’ decisions to move forward with their lives.
—Beverly A. Houston, Southfield, Mich.

The firefighters, police, and other rescue workers who went up the stairs of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and never came down are heroes. They were not ordinary men, and neither were their wives. If it’s new boobs or a big house that makes them happy, then the money I donated was very well spent.
—Gregg Grossman, Dobbs Ferry, n.y.

While New Yorkers still grieve for the victims of 9/11, these odious widows obnoxiously flaunt what they appear to wallow in—a perverse new kind of celebrity. For all their glibness, I did not detect one trace of true grief, only the flip party-time hubris that money can bring to some people in the face of such tragedy. Maybe they should consider doing a TV show—say, Checks and the City?
—Charles Blackwell, Manhattan It’s nice to know that the money I had been donating to the victims’ relief fund and other charity organizations for our fallen heroes has gone to finance someone’s boob job rather than go into a trust fund for their children. Is it too late to ask for my money back?
—Nagwa S. Awad, Toms River, N.J.

My husband, who was a New York City employee, died five months after 9/11. Nobody set up a special charity for me, nobody provided me with grief counseling, and nobody handed me a million dollars. My pain is just as great, my loss just as devastating. There is one difference: I haven’t moved on and fallen in love again. I don’t know if I ever will.
—Victoria Morganti, Port Chester, N.Y.

After reading “The Dead Wives Club, or Char in Love,” I am beginning to understand. I cannot imagine what these women went through, and it is obvious that all the money in the world cannot buy happiness or love. I am glad they are allowing themselves to live and feel, and to experience those emotions again.
—Meredith Eisgrau, Manhattan

On September 23, 2001, the New York Times published the photos of the husbands and fathers lost on 9/11. Now, nearly three years later, I’m sitting in my office looking at their faces—each one faded and yellow. They remind me every day what I witnessed from my office window. Grieving is a hard job. I’m glad these women have each other’s support, and I’m happy to know that they will survive.
—Pauline Bandolik, Brooklyn

As the wife of FDNY Assistant Deputy Chief of Department Gerard A. Barbara, a 31-year veteran of the Fire Department, which he loved almost as much as his family, I have witnessed—and lived through—experiences completely divergent from those you profiled. We too have attended countless memorials, but we stood tall and proud and never dared to “giggle” or “sneak to the bar.” We too have received funds from charities—and a bit from the government—and have put them to good use with foundations in the names of our heroes. We too go on vacations, but we go not to “booze it up to forget” but to remove ourselves from the constant scrutiny and the disbelieving stares of people we’ve known our whole lives. The widows profiled represent a minority of the families; the majority have persevered through this horrible atrocity with dignity, grace, and an undying love for those who died.
—Joanne Barbara, Staten Island

Anyone who has lost someone they loved—a spouse, child, sibling, parent, or friend—in a sudden tragic event can empathize with these women. However, the compensation doled out to them is astounding when one considers that most people who have suffered similar losses aren’t compensated with millions of dollars. Instead, their families are left with nothing but a meager Social Security check or military compensation.
—Lisa L. Buzaid, Sherman, Conn.

June 14, 2004