How can we interact with the families that lost loved ones on 9/11 without offending?
I doubt you will have to actually worry about this, but if you are just calm, cool and know how to “hold space” you should be fine.
Others have addressed this but need to add my two cents. I live in NYC, was in NYC when the attacks happened, I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan that day since I had some friends who were in Lower Manhattan that day and was concerned about them. They were/are all fine. I also regularly commute through the huge mall/transportation hub there.
Which is all to say: I highly doubt you will have direct interaction with anyone connected to 9/11 attacks in any way. There are just too many people going through there all the time and—in all honesty—you will simply be another face in a crowd.
But that doesn’t me you won’t run into someone indirectly affected by 9/11 that day. And if you do just be polite, calm, cool and just “hold space” for them. You know what holding space means? Just be polite, attentive, quiet and respectful.
Also, don’t forget the World Trade Center is still a working part of the city.
That said, I will tell you right away you might find the 9/11 memorial site more disorienting in other ways. Like I said, the 9/11 World Trade Center area is more than just a memorial.
First there are the reflecting pools at the footprint of each tower with waterfalls going down a few stories in height. These are definitely moving, free and open to the public. But you cannot avoid the reality that the World Trade Center site is still what it was before the attacks: A massive office park that also has a mall and transportation hub located there.
While I am fairly certain utterly nobody who is a tenant at the World Trade Center is disrespectful to those who lost their lives that day, you need to really—in my humble opinion—to prepare yourself to seeing people rushing to work, shopping at an Apple store or buying coffee and snacks while mourning happens.
This is a topic that can be debated, but as a native New Yorker I find it hard to understand how to feel when I am at the 9/11 site because of the memorial being so close to the hustle and bustle of the city. So just accept the fact that is what it is.
And past that honestly just be cool and don’t be a jerk and you should be fine.