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Marathon Tragedy Hits Home

News Feature

News & Events

April 17, 2013

Megan Gomes, ’13, and her parents had been standing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon most of the day waiting to cheer on a family friend who was running in honor of Megan’s late brother, Kevin. The psychology major even took a photo of the spot: It was across the street from the Boston Public Library, along a line of flags.
 
That spot has since become famous, or infamous: It is where the first of two bombs exploded at 2:50 p.m. Monday.
 
Fortunately, at some point, Megan and her folks had decided to move a little further up Boylston Street. A short while after they did so, the attack happened. They were about 600 feet away.
 
“It almost sounded like cannon at a sporting event,” Megan said. “And there was a cop in front of us, and he looked confused, too. Then we heard the other explosion and we just took off down the street.”
 
Millions across the state and country are also trying to come to grips with the tragedy that took three lives and injured more than 170 spectators. The BSU Counseling Center held special hours on Tuesday in the Campus Center, and an interfaith prayer service was held that night at St. Basil’s Chapel.

Many may require some sort of help dealing with yesterday’s tragedy, said Dr. Michelle Mamberg, assistant professor of psychology. “We need to recognize that it is very scary and it raises your own sense of vulnerability,” she said.
 
Finding someone to talk to is a good idea, be it clergy or a mental health professional. “You need to find some way to make sense of this,” Dr. Mamberg said.
 
Professor James Leone was at mile 23 of the marathon when he was stopped by the news of the two explosions that rocked the area near the finish line. “I am still trying to process the whole thing,” said the associate professor of health.
 
He was coming off Heartbreak Hill about to enter Brookline when state trooper cars and motorcycles went flying past. Dr. Leone figured there must have been a bad injury. He continued running when the medical staff started telling the runners to get off the road and onto the sidewalk.
 
“I was really confused and tired of course,” he said. “Several people were asking when we could get back on the road and finish the race and the medical professionals told us to hang on for a bit since the race had been stopped,” he said.
 
Ten minutes later he and the other runners were told buses were told about the explosions and that buses were on their way for them. “I am still shocked as to how senseless and brutal this act of violence has impacted the Boston Marathon community and the nation as a whole,” Professor Leone said.
 
Many BSU faculty members and administrators were sought out by the media for their insights following the attack. They addressed a variety of topics, including dealing with stress, talking with children about the event and social media’s role in the aftermath.
 
Dr. Michael Kocet, associate professor of counselor education, said the effects of the marathon attack will likely be felt far and wide. “You don’t need to have known someone in the race to feel the shock,” he said. As for advice: “One of the steps to take is to continue our daily course of living, which means going back into the city and being an active part of events there and not being afraid.”
 
He also emphasized taking care of oneself in the hectic days following Monday’s tragedy.
 
This last sentiment was echoed by Dr. Mamberg. “I think people need to take care of themselves. Sometimes when there tragedies happen people get so caught up watching the footage over and over again,” she said. “But people need to keep up their routine, take care of themselves, basic stuff, in order to manage the emotional stuff.”
 
Both professors recommended a variety of helpful practices for those seeking to cope with the aftermath of Monday’s tragedy, including mediation, prayer, soft music, calling loved ones, and simply finding a way to carry on and deal with grief and anxiety. Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek help if you think you need it. (Photos submitted, story by John Winters, G ’11, University Advancement)
 

Megan Gomes at the marathon, before the explosions

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