When the world hurts, a story for all ages

This originally appeared in The Inquirer, Issue 8041

This is a story about Sam.
Sometimes, Sam feels really sad.
Sometimes, Sam feels really scared.
Just recently, Sam has been feeling
really sad and really scared .
Sam’s only small, and when you’re
small, you can find big feelings a bit
much to deal with.

The reason Sam has been feeling sad
and scared lately is because when
Sam’s watched the news, and when
Sam’s heard people talking at school,
people have been talking about sad
and scary things.

The sad and scary things Sam has
been hearing about are happening
a long way away. The people who
live in that place a long way away
are even more sad and scared than
Sam is, because there are horrible
things happening where they live.
Someone is attacking them, and
they are having to hide in shelters
and some of them are having to try
to run away.

Sam’s tried all sorts of things to
stop being sad and scared. Sam’s
tried shouting and screaming and
getting angry about things which
aren’t really the problem. Sam got
really angry one day because a cup
got broken at home. Sam doesn’t
normally get angry about that and
Sam thought screaming about it
might help. But after that, Sam still
felt sad and scared.

Sam’s tried doing other things so
the other things filled Sam’s brain
so there was no room for the sad
and scary thoughts. But the sad and
scary thoughts crept back anyway,
and Sam still felt sad and scared.
Sam’s tried pretending the sad and
scary feelings aren’t there. But Sam
still felt sad and scared.

Sam could tell that the grown-ups
at home were sad and scared too,
so Sam didn’t want to make them
more sad and scared by saying ‘I’m
sad and scared’. And anyway, Sam
thought feeling sad and scared were
bad things to feel. Sam thought you
were meant to always be cheerful
and happy. Sam didn’t feel it was
OK to be sad and scared.

Sometimes, for a little while,
Sam hasn’t felt sad and scared.
Sometimes Sam’s felt happy and
giggly and sometimes Sam’s just
enjoyed eating lunch and then
sometimes Sam has remembered
all the sad and scary things and feel
sad again, because Sam doesn’t
know if it was OK to feel happy and
giggly when sad and scary things are
happening somewhere else.

‘Are you OK, Sam?’
And so Sam’s been getting more
and more sad, and more and more
scared. Sam’s been feeling all sorts
of big things and it’s been really,
really hard.

And then one of Sam’s grown-ups
came along, and said ‘Sam, you
seem sad and scared. Are you OK,
Sam?’ and Sam said, ‘yeah, I’m fine’.
And Sam’s grown up said, ‘but are
you really fine?’ and Sam paused a
bit and then said, ‘no. I’m not fine.
I’m sad and scared’. And Sam told
Sam’s grown-up all about feeling sad
and scared because of the sad and
scary things a long way away; and all
about feeling sad and scared because
of not wanting to tell anyone about
feeling sad and scared; and all about
feeling a bit guilty because of not
knowing if it was OK to not feel sad
and scared. And Sam’s grownup just
listened while Sam talked and talked
and talked.

It’s OK
And Sam’s grownup said something
really important. Sam’s grown up
said ‘It’s OK to feel sad and scared.
And it’s OK to not feel sad and
scared. And it’s OK to feel sad
and not-sad and scared and notscared all at the same time, and it
is definitely OK to say, “I feel sad
and scared”. It’s important to try
and remember that right now you’re
safe though. Right now you’re safe.’

So now, Sam sometimes still feels a
bit sad and a bit scared, and actually,
Sam sometimes feels very sad and
very scared. But what Sam knows
now is that it’s OK. And Sam feels

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