LEE COUNTY, Fla - Runners returned home to Southwest Florida Tuesday thankful to be home, but still shaken by Monday's explosions.
For Jill Wheeler, a mother of two, the most difficult thing has been explaining what happened to her two daughters. They are six and seven and not only heard the two bombs explode, but saw the chaos unfold.
"My daughter, said mommy, mommy, I'm really really scared," says Wheeler. "I said, it's fine it's fine. I said it's probably a water pipe. That's what I immediately went to was positive thinking, not terror at all."
Moments later, that all changed. "I just lost it and my kids saw the anger of what humanity could do," says Wheeler.
Wheeler and her family were on the 32nd floor of the Westin Copley Hotel on lockdown just a block and a half away from the finish line. Looking down they could see chaos.
Wheeler says it has been difficult trying to keep it together for her children while still trying to understand everything herself. "I couldn't sleep last night. I thought wow, I am internalizing this because I'm trying to figure out a way to explain this to my kids. They slept with me, but I couldn't sleep. I was up and panicking."
Wheeler is not only a marathon runner and a mother, but also a therapist. She says she has been trying to explain the experience to her kids without instilling too much fear.
"The first thing my daughter said when she woke up was are there going to be more bombs and are in a war?"
Wheeler is not alone in her struggle with how to talk to her kids about this tragedy. Doctor Nancy Rappaport is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and has completed 12 Boston Marathons.
She says when talking to your kids, it's important to explain the tragedy by telling a story that makes sense to them. "Their primary concern is who is going to be taking care of me and they're really dependent on adults for their sense of security," says Dr. Rappaport. "As a parent they're feeling overwhelmed and it's okay to say mommy is worried because of an explosion that happened or a bomb that happened that hurt some people and that's upsetting."
Dr. Rappaport says parents should never feel pressure that you have to answer your childs questions. You can say that's a really good question that I wish I could answer or I need to think about that for a bit.