Four Free Stories to Help your Family Process the Bombing in Manchester
May 23, 2017
Helping & Healing
When I was 20 years old, I spent a semester in London studying art with a number of other Syracuse University students. It was glorious — it was in this season that I discovered fairy tales and realized that they were going to be a significant part of my future. It was also when I had a firsthand encounter with terrorism. I lost several friends in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and my relationship to England was forever marked by a wide range of emotions and memories.
Last night in Manchester, a suicide bomber took the lives of at least 22 young people at a rock concert. Those in attendance came to appreciate music, enjoy themselves, make way for a new experience, and create an important memory. And they will have the memory — just not the one they intended.
Attacks like this have become more regular lately and certainly more thoroughly reported. Children around the world have plenty of fuel for any feelings of insecurity, danger, and dread — and we feel strongly that it is best for children to feel safe and believe the world is a good place (regardless of what we as adults believe and feel).
We have posted these stories before — and the sad truth is that we will likely need to post them again — but our hope is that you and your children can listen to them together and absorb a series of images and words to use when processing the news. Your children may not directly encounter images or conversations about what happened, but know that it is in the energy of the world right now — and children are incredibly sensitive to even the most subtle bits of information.
They may ask questions, they might want to know what happened, and they may even demand explanations. We think that the best we can offer in response are two ideas:
They are safe.
The world is good.
If we can assure our children that they are safe and that the world is good, then hopefully they won’t need to know how many people died, who the bomber was and what was his motivation. They will know that we are there for them, that all the adults they know and love will protect them, and that even though the world contains great pain, it is good. It is deeply good.
Here are some stories that can help - and how you can use them:
This story can help make sense when there are sudden tragic events and motivations are unclear. It replaces the need to know “why” with the assurance that the adults will do everything they can to make things right
This story is about a young girl named Lee, who loves her little black dog Prince. But one day, Prince is suddenly killed by a speeding car. The girl not only has to come to grips with the abrupt loss of her dog, but she also manages questions like “Who was it? Why didn’t they stop? How could they do it?”. And the ultimate message from her loving parents is this: We love you. It is OK to be sad. We are holding you. And we will do everything we can to prevent this from happening again.
“Denny and the Could Bee”
This story can help reassure children that wonder if dangerous things could happen to them or to people they love.
“Denny and the Could Bee” is all about the insidious nature of imagining what “could” happen. Rumors, exaggerations, fearful stories, and even simple wonderings have “Could Bees” buzzing around in them. Luckily Mr. James, Denny’s kindergarten teacher, has a way of shooing those Could Bees away and allowing the truth of the matter to become clear.
This story is from the Helping & Healing Toolbelt.
This is a story that transforms fear and worry about safety and wellbeing into an impulse to help.
It is a short story about Dennis, a happy little six year old boy who wakes one morning to see his mother listening to the radio in the kitchen. She turns it off, but Dennis can tell that something is wrong and that his mother is feeling sad – and maybe a little scared. She explains that something happened, a big storm moved through a town, and buildings were damaged and people were hurt. When she sees that this is making him feel nervous, she scoops him up and tells him,
“I know that when something like this happens – when there are very strong winds or other kinds of storms – people around the world will know about it. And do you know what they do when they find out? They will help.”
She then told him about how all the people on their street, in their neighborhood and in their town that want to make sure that he, Dennis, is safe.
“But you know what, Dennis?” his Mother asked, raising her eyebrows, “It is time for us to be the helpers. There are people that are feeling scared right now because a storm came to their house. Our house is fine and so are we. Are you ready to be a helper?”
Someone Else's Dragon
from the By Thistle By Thimble Series
The story support children in managing fear about something they've seen or heard.
The people of Solvei’s village have a yearly festival that marks the end of the growing season and the beginning of the dark time. In this joyful celebration, the villagers dress as dragons that represent the things they fear. Solvei is too young to attend, but is so excited that she sneaks a peek on the night of the festival — and comes home with many different fears from the “dragons” that she saw there. Her mother explains that she has taken on ‘someone else’s dragon’ and then helps her daughter give the fears back so she can fall peacefully asleep.
Lastly, in my experience, stories can be much more effective than explanations. I don’t think you need to follow up with a discussion or make analogies with stories - just let them sink in and become a part of your child’s picture of a safe, good world.
This story has no Sparkle advertisement – only a short copyright tag at the end. It is intended as a gift to support families who may find it useful.
About the Author
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.