For the past several years, I’ve volunteered as a grief group facilitator. I’ve worked with every age from 5 years old to adults, but most often with the teenagers. Grief is different across the life span – it’s different depending on the loss, on your relationship to the loved, on your personal history, on the factors surrounding the loss … it’s basically different for every individual. However, I relate to the rawness of the teenager’s grief. Often they aren’t young enough to pretend life goes on as normal and hide their hurt, but they aren’t old enough to fully understand why their hurt weighs so much. (Or perhaps that is a projection of my own grief journey.)
In my recent teen group, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about “Triggers.” Many of the participants are in the early months of their grief. Many things can trigger the sadness of their loss – a song in the car, a movie with a death scene, driving by a location from the past. These things can drum up an overwhelming rush to the chest of sadness or panic.
In my experience, as my grief has aged with me, some triggers are more predictable (like the ones mentioned above) and you can prepare for them and often numb to them. But there are still complicated triggers, unexpected, that hit you with force. Just the other night I said the phrase “in the past ten years …” and my throat closed up tight, my chest felt shaky, and my eyes welled with familiar tears as I realized in a few short months it will be ten years since I’ve heard my sister laugh. It’s difficult to explain the way loss feels – the internal grasping feeling, searching for the closeness of your loved one.
Triggers can result in a variety of emotions, depending on the type of trigger and what factor of your grief the subconscious is exploring. I presume that “triggers” will be a frequent topic for Loss and Life. As we approach Memorial Day, many of us will take a moment to remember our loved one. Allow yourself to experience any triggers that might be tripped. It is in the release of these intense emotions that we can relieve just a tiny piece of the weight of our loss.
Hi, I'm Tiffany. I believe in the power of stories to connect us to each other. I write about life after loss and all the love, longing, and learning that comes from it. Grief is big, love is bigger. My newest stories are about motherhood (after both infertility and loss). In my experience, love doesn't get bigger than motherhood.
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