As the country is just days away from opening the Sept. 11 memorial at ground zero, Dominic Puopolo is still fighting an uphill battle to move on.
His mother, Sonia Mercedez Morales Puopolo, was on one of the flight terrorists flew into the World Trade Center.
"This is the memorial urn that the City of New York gave us, along with a folded flag," he said, displaying the symbolic container that for more than 50 percent of affected families is all that remains of their loved ones.
Poupolo now lives in the natural beauty of South Beach, but finds it tough to enjoy it, or to have personal relationships. He has used his skills as an IT expert for work, but has spent much of his time seeing the living conspirators meet justice.
"I tried very hard after 911 to move on and find some happiness, [but] it's been sort of a roller coaster," he said. "Recently, I’ve understood that something was wrong and that I needed to talk to somebody about it."
Dr. Daniella David, an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder who treats soldiers at the local VA hospital, says affects of suffering such an event can be inclusive -- and that anyone affected traumatic events should talk to a professional if they feel it will make their lives better.
"A lot of people don't realize that this affects of lot of areas, a lot of aspects of life," she said. "When faced with such a horrendous event, almost everyone is going to develop something. That doesn’t mean it’s going to develop into a disease, but everyone is going to have some reaction.
"Emotional reactions are unavoidable."
For Poupolo, his quest for peace of mind led him to fly to Germany to ensure one of the 9/11 plotters was convicted. But devoting himself to seeing conspirators to justice didn't bring him the closure he expected.
"That might have been part of what makes it hard to move on," he admitted. "Just dealing with...one of the people that killed my mother, and being so close to him -- I didn't know that it stirred so much emotion until recently."
Poupolo plans to go to the 9/11 memorial in New York over the weekend, saying he draws some peace of mind from visiting the site and honoring his mother.
Now frequently visiting a counselor, he says he is looking forward to his future.