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9/11 Families Seek Closure After Osama Bin Laden Death

CHANG W. LEE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For many families who lost loved ones on 9/11, news of Osama bin Laden's death and burial at sea has brought mixed feelings -- relief that the world's most notorious terrorist has been brought to justice, but also a reminder of the pain they felt nearly a decade ago.

"It was a feeling of elation, but for those of us who lost so much on 9/11, it wasn't totally elation. For me there was sadness attached to it because it was a reminder of what I lost," David McCourt, whose wife and daughter were killed in the second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, celebrations erupted across the U.S. immediately following President Obama's announcement that Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday by U.S. troops.

While it may seem jubilation and grief are distinct sentiments, many psychologists and psychiatrists say these mixed emotions are painful indicators that define feelings of long-awaited closure.

"Closure does not necessarily mean no longer feeling grief, or no longer feeling angst or pain over a situation," said Dr. Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in New York. "It means essentially having threads of resolve."

But many find peace of mind by allowing themselves to understand that they may never stop feeling a sense of loss, Hilfer said. And some, regardless of bin Laden's death, may say that they have already reached their own feeling of closure.

"Some just see this as a task that was incomplete and is now complete," said Hilfer.

McCourt's four-year-old daughter, Juliana, and wife Ruth were on their way to Disneyland when their flight was hijacked on 9/11 and flown into the World Trade Center.

The intensity of bereavement wanes over time, said Dr. Howard Belkin, assistant professor of psychiatry at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. But for some, bin Laden's death may bring back some of the sharpest memories of 9/11.

"[Bin Laden] was a figure that was so significant in our psyche, that it can take weeks to months to years to feel full closure," said Belkin. "The mourning period may start over, but will be shorter lived than initially."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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