Triggers in Grief
Unexpected triggers can pop up day-to-day catching you off guard with your grief and bringing on a surge of emotion, whether it be walking down a supermarket aisle or seeing the first strawberries of the season. These small reminders throughout the day can bring up many different memories, emotions, thoughts and more. This reminds us that grief is not a stationary journey – it has constant ups and downs and is an unpredictable path, sometimes with changes in emotion from hour to hour.
As time goes on there will inevitably be things which are happening in life which you want to share with your loved one who is no longer here, whether that be birthdays, Mother’s day, Christmas, anniversaries, or just general every day situations, and this longing can trigger a flurry of powerful emotions. People cope with triggers in different ways, whether it be buying a card and writing down what they would want to say to their loved one, having something planned with family to celebrate them, or taking some time for themselves. There is no ‘right’ thing to do on a difficult day, but we do encourage you to do something that feels kind and nourishing for you.
There is no warning given when something is going to trigger a strong emotional reaction in you, because triggers can be unexpected or completely unknown. This can be very difficult to deal with, especially when you are just trying to survive your day. It may be worth noting down when something has made you particularly emotional so that you can better learn what your specific triggers are – this can help normalise your experiences.
Triggers can also come in the form of internal questions we find ourselves asking, such as: “Could I have done more?”, “What if I had done something differently?”, or, “What if we had spotted this sooner?” Being bereaved comes with a lot of questions, and hindsight is a helpful but sometimes tortuous thing. You can almost look back and feel like things were missed and what if this or that was done sooner, what if I had realised? The trouble with the “What if?” question is that we may never have the answers and can therefore find ourselves going around in loops.
A more helpful question to ask may be, “How can I look after myself in this moment?”
Is there a way you can look after yourself right now?