Reflecting on the 10-Year Anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing

Boston Strong quilt
Photo caption: This Boston Strong quilt hangs in the Samaritans office.

This month marks 10 years since the Boston Marathon bombing that took the lives of three people and injured hundreds. That day, and the days that followed, were traumatic and difficult for so many people throughout Massachusetts. 

On April 15, 2013, Samaritans had 14 people with charity bib numbers running in the Marathon, and many of our staff were scattered along the route to cheer them on. Fortunately, none of our runners or staff were physically injured during the bombing. And thanks to our dedicated and resilient volunteers, we were able to keep our Helpline open on that day and the days that followed for folks who were struggling, including those who needed someone to talk to about traumatic events they witnessed or experienced during the attack.  

Everyone processes these kinds of memories differently — there is no right way to cope.  

As we reflect on that day a decade later, I want to acknowledge that this may be a challenging time. You or others in your life may be feeling down given this day of remembrance. Anniversaries of traumatic events are hard days for many people because they can bring us back to a difficult time and raise complicated emotions. Everyone processes these kinds of memories differently — there is no right way to cope.  

If you are having a challenging time with this anniversary, it may be helpful to engage in a self-care activity that makes you feel whole. This looks different for everyone. Some folks might find it helpful to express themselves creatively through art or writing, going for a run outside, connecting with a friend, or doing a group activity that brings their community together. And for those who need someone to talk to, for any reason, you can always reach out to our 24/7 Helpline by calling or texting 988. Do what you need to take care of yourself — however that looks. 

If friends or family in your life are having a tough time with this anniversary, you can show support by listening to them. Give them space to express their emotions without judgment: 

  • Start a conversation by asking open-ended questions. You can ask, “How does it feel when you see media coverage about the 10-year anniversary?”  
  • Listen with compassion and paraphrase what you hear. Validate their feelings by saying things like, “That sounds really tough,” or “It’s understandable to feel that way.”
  • Ask clarifying questions to further understand their experience. For instance, “When you say ___, what do you mean?”  
  • Lean into the conversation. Avoid offering solutions or looking for a silver lining. Sit with them in whatever they are feeling and focus on that. 

However you choose to honor the 10-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing – whether it involves doing an activity on your own, connecting with your community, or checking in with a loved one who might be having a difficult time – keep in mind that there is no right way to feel and people will find comfort from many different outlets.  

For those who would like to mark the anniversary by coming together in community, we invite you to join us at this year’s Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17, to cheer on the 14 runners on Team Samaritans. We will be at Mile 17 near Temple Reyim at 1860 Washington St, Auburndale, MA, cheering on our runners and honoring the strength and perseverance that our city and our community showed in the face of tragedy ten years ago.