Grief triggers are a natural and inevitable part of the grieving process, and not all will be connected to negative feelings. When you experience a grief trigger after a loved one passes away, you are keeping their love alive and spirit awake. This is why it is important not to avoid them as time goes on. There are ways you can prepare for grief triggers so that you are flooded with positivity instead of anguish and are honoring the life of your loved one.
Internal Grief Triggers:
Questions and memories. Self-doubt often arrives in the form of questions: Was there something I could’ve done differently? Why didn’t I call? Sometimes the questions left unanswered aren’t even about us: What was he/she thinking that day? Did he/she reach out to anyone? The internal struggles we grapple with are only reminders that we are human and we care.
Sometimes it may be hard to find positivity in your thoughts and feelings, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be upset. Know that you still are in control here. When these questions pop into your mind, try not to ruminate on the answers. Instead, try repeating positive mantras to yourself, reminding yourself of the fun times you shared with your loved one. These positive memories will help distract you from the anger and sadness you are feeling. You can also write your questions out in the form of a letter to your loved one and keep it in a safe place to prevent rumination.
External Grief Triggers:
People. Sometimes friends and those close to the deceased may trigger you during the grieving process. Other times it may be a complete stranger that looks like them. These memories will not always feel happy and upbeat when you experience them. If that’s the case, take the time to process your grief in your own way.
Remembering how your loved one looked physically is a way of keeping their memory alive.
Creating a photo journal or a collage of the deceased is a creative way to combat negative thoughts. Take some time to go through photos you’ve kept and showcase them proudly.
Environments and objects. We might be reminded of our loved ones when we visit certain places like the park or a restaurant. We also might find remnants of their personality in objects like furniture and clothing. These are the things that made your loved one unique, and it is perfectly fine to talk about them with other people. Share the special details that you remember with friends and family members when you can.
Holidays. Anniversaries and holidays are touchy subjects for many friends and family of the deceased. These could be dates of annual vacations you used to take together, birthdays, and more. When you know that a holiday is approaching, take time to reflect on how you want to remember these days. Allow yourself to feel the many emotions you are experiencing, then create a plan. Did your loved one enjoy bike riding on this day? Take a bike ride with a friend to celebrate their life. Maybe today is a day you simply take to relax by the river and enjoy their memory.
The grieving process is a journey with many ups and downs. Some days will be harder than others, and you don’t need to go through them alone. Carson’s Village wants to be there for you. Visit our advocate support page to talk with someone today.