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What to Do When Little Things Trigger Your Grief


Grieving Process

Posted On: Mar 03, 2017

What to Do When Little Things Trigger Your Grief

The title of this article is a misnomer because, in grief, nothing is “little.” No trigger is small or insignificant. It's impossible to quantify a trigger like that. Besides, since bereavement is such a personal, unique, literally one-of-a-kind thing, every person is different. You may be smack in the middle of the grieving process, or you might finally feel some closure. All the same, a small thing can trip you up in a second—a woman who looks like your recently departed mother, a whiff of your late wife's favorite perfume, a bike just like the one your brother rode. Your grief can waylay you out of nowhere. It hits when you least expect, perhaps in public or at work. You can't escape it, and you can't fight it, but you can get through it.

Don't Try to Anticipate It

You simply can't. In time, you'll realize that certain scents, sights, or locations call up your feelings of sadness and loss, but you can't avoid the world just because something out there will remind you of someone who's no longer here.

Find a Quiet Spot

At times, the grief called up by innocuous, day-to-day things is more nostalgic than anything. There's an ache, but it's bittersweet. However, sometimes a remind opens up a new wellspring of grief intense enough to bring you to your knees. If you come across something that reminds you of your loved one or brings back the pain, look for a quiet spot that's at least semi-private. Breathe deeply, sit down if you can, and close your eyes. Try to calm yourself by timing your breath and your pulse. Cry if you need to, though. There's no shame in it.

Reach Out to Someone

Ask for help or comfort if your grief reopens while you're with someone you trust. Whether it's a friend, family member, or even a coworker, don't be afraid to speak openly about what's happening and how you feel. Even strangers know what it's like to lose someone. Empathetic people will understand exactly what you're going through and many will offer support without even being asked.

Cherish Those Moments

Instead of dreading the things that might trigger the loss and anguish of losing someone, why not cherish the things that remind you of your loved one? If you catch the scent of your father's favorite cologne or see a woman with the same coloring as your best friend, consider it a gift. Perhaps those things are not triggers at all, but signs from the people who have passed on before us.

Anything can trigger your grief—anything that reminds you of someone you loved and lost. The tiniest things catch you unaware. How do you cope with those moments?