Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grief Triggers

No matter how long ago our child died, we all have grief triggers. There are moments when, out of the blue, something is said or something is done to bring our focus back to our child who we have so carefully placed in a corner of our heart. In those moments we remember everything, and our reaction may be to smile and simply go on as though nothing has happened or we may get an excruciating pain in our chest that may make it difficult to breathe and/or talk normally.

I am more of the latter. My heart will beat fast, and I may have to take deep breathes. In my imagination everyone can hear my heart pounding as the memories wash over me. I make a concerted effort, without saying a word, to continue on with what I was doing at the time and to slow the heart rate. The memories linger, sometimes pleasantly, sometimes too long, and I am caught in a conundrum of remembering feelings, days, months, years, that I love to think about, but know that those memories are no longer part of my reality.

The anniversary of my daughter’s death, March 2, and her birthday, July 27, are not good days for me. I try to keep busy, and I honor those days by reflecting on her life, looking at pictures and watching the only two videos I have of her.

Holidays, where families get together such as Thanksgiving or Mother’s Day, are particularly hard. Those two holidays it seems, are for families to be together, whether it is to give thanks or to honor Mothers. I feel very lost on Mother’s Day since I am the only one of my family left. There is only my husband to wish me a happy day, and I have to accept that reality.

Sometimes I will hear a song that Marcy used to like or a song that reminds me of a part in a school play she had, and I can hear her singing it loud and clearly. (Her voice was always much better than mine; I have trouble carrying a tune!). I smile when I think of the two of us singing songs together and dancing in the living room. Good memories.

When I am traveling and going to places I know she has been with either me or a friend, I become sad, knowing she loved traveling as much as I do. At times I am not only sad but also mad that she will never be able to enjoy new places, new experiences, new friends. So I travel now not only for my own enjoyment but also for Marcy’s. I go places I think she would enjoy and smile to myself as I see her climbing the hill imitating Julie Andrews singing. And I wear my Marcy picture necklace whenever I travel so that I feel she is always with me.

All these triggers and others are dealt with as best as I can. I try to be good to myself and to others. I treasure my good friends and my wonderful husband. But whether it’s one, two, five, ten or twenty years, you will never forget. Try to work through the grief triggers that will always come when you least expect them to, and make them a positive experience.

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