Little Triggers, Big Grief

With the grief resources included in cremation services in Rockford, IL, life for us after losing a loved one to death will eventually reach a new normal. The grief will not be all-consuming, palpable, and intense like it was in the first days, weeks, and months after our loved one died. However, it will not be gone. It will simply morph into another form that is always with us, but not always making itself known.

Little things, known as triggers, however, will upend our grief and bring it back in all its former intensity. The moments don’t last as long, but it can be surprising how strong they and our reactions to them are.

Triggers that remind us of a loved one who has died can be anything that makes us think of them or that we associate with them. Some will be obvious and some will be more subtle.

Triggers are technically circumstances, sounds, smells, and sights that evoke a strong memory. You never know, however, where they’re going to come from.

You may be walking down a crowded city street surrounded by total strangers and you catch a whiff of your dad’s cologne and memories of your dad coming flooding back, along with tears.

You may see someone who has the same disability or condition that took the life of your grandma, and your heartstrings tug at you as you want to go over and talk with your grandma one more time.

You may hear a song that you don’t even necessarily like, but it was playing at a critical juncture with your loved one, and it jolts you back to that moment in time and the circumstances surrounding it.

Sometimes current events are triggers. If you lost a loved one through a violent act, you may find that mass shootings trigger memories of your loved one.

Whatever the trigger and wherever it comes from, the grief reaction is the same: tears, anxiety, sorrow, fear, powerlessness, and a profound sense of loss all over again. There are, however, some steps you can take to handle triggers more effectively. They won’t disappear completely because we’re wired to remember every bit that we possibly can about the people we love and the people we lose.

The first step is notice what your particular triggers are. If you find yourself experiencing intense grief when visiting the hospital where your loved one died, then that’s a trigger and you should find another way to support people who may be admitted to that hospital. These can range from sending flowers to texting or calling the patients instead of actually going to the hospital to visit them.

If you find that triggers are events involving death that have no specific relationship to the circumstances of your loved one’s death, then you can do some things to help shore up your defenses. One way is to reduce the amount of time you spend watching the news coverage of them. Another way is to get off of or cut down your use of social media.

Taking care of yourself is also a way to handle the overload of little triggers. Many people find spending time outdoors in nature calming. Others find that journaling what they are feeling and why helps relieve some of the anxiety and fear. Still others find a trusted friend to talk with and spend time with. However, in some cases, professional counseling or pastoral counseling can help with being too emotionally overwhelmed by little triggers.

If you’d like to learn more about grief resources and cremation services in Rockford, IL, our compassionate and experienced team at Collins & Stone Funeral Home is here to help. You can visit us at our funeral home at 128 S 5th Street, Rockford, IL 61104, or you can call us today at (815) 965-1515.

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