Triggers & Trauma
Crisp fall air triggers a wave of nausea. Falling leaves remind me of sitting, shocked and broken watching a group of loved ones entertain my boys with a giant leaf pile in the earliest moments following his death. A spritz of my fall body spray in the cool air of the bathroom and suddenly the memories flood. I remember trembling as I dressed for his “celebration of life” thinking through my memorial words and feeling like running away. The cool air vents in the car have a strange sterile odor that is just like the smell of wearing my required mask at the funeral home the last time I saw my sweetheart and held his hand. I soaked my mask with tears. For me fall is no longer a celebration of pumpkin spice and all things nice. It is the anniversary of the most horrible thing that has ever happened to me. Triggers and trauma are a steady presence in the grief journey. Try as I may to avoid it, but this journey involves learning how let myself fully feel this horrible type of pain while still slowly inching forward, refusing to give up and give in.
Grief has a strangle timeline. No matter how far you are from that tragic event, on any given day it suddenly feels just like yesterday.
Even something as mundane as going to grocery store is an epic emotional battle for a grieving widow. Triggers are everywhere. Wishing I could buy him his favorite foods or cook his favorite meals. Hearing the background music play a song we’d sing together in the car or worse yet, a love song. Realizing he’ll never be able to stop in there to buy me a bouquet of roses on his way home from work or go grocery shopping together again. And worst of all, bumping into a variety of people that know me or knew us as a couple. Some avert their eyes, nervous and not knowing what to say. Others stumble awkwardly through a brief chit chat. Some days I just don’t want to talk to anyone. Other days the tears start flowing and I can’t seem to bring them under control until I’m finally checked out and back in the car. Who would have thought that going shopping would be so hard?
I find that pain never leaves, but on some days it changes into different types of pain and other emotions in different amounts. The endless tears and piercing pain and inability to function early on morphs into a steady undertone of aching pain, depression, apathy, and loneliness. Both experiences are equally difficult, yet different in how you learn to cope. Each type requires learning different coping skills and new strategies for moving forward. But all it takes is a trigger to take me back to a messy mental and emotional place very much like it felt right at the beginning.
We grieve deeply because we loved deeply.
We say “I’m OK,” when asked, when deep down we don’t really mean it. We survive day by day. We are strong on the outside because we have to be, but on the inside we carry more pain than words can express. Yet I will press on. I know my husband is so proud of me and would never want me to give up.
What triggers your grief and trauma?
In Hope & Prayers,
This Widow Mama