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Understanding My Triggers

Understanding My Triggers

We are constantly getting triggered throughout our grief journey: we hear a song on the radio; we see someone that reminds us of our (loved one); anniversaries; birthdays; or Christmas. The realisation that we can’t phone or speak to our (loved one) every day. This list goes on and on.

This exercise is to become aware of some of your triggers. I am hoping that it will help normalise your reactions to the triggers.

May I share: I know that when I am triggered, it can take my breath away. I remember going to an event and I was sitting behind an older woman that had hair just like my mum. As strange as it sounds, I sat there looking at her hair. Within an instant, my heart was racing, I was feeling weak and my eyes filled with tears. I was breathless, sad and felt angry that my mum was dead.  I kept looking at her hair and getting teary because I wanted to feel the pain that was living inside me and to acknowledge how much I miss my mum. I felt sick in my stomach.

I remember the first 18 months after losing mum, I would close my eyes at night and see so many images of her dying. It upset me so much.

I’d see older women that reminded me of her when I was shopping. Whenever I drove to her home town, I was triggered terribly. I’d have lots of physical reactions too. My heart would race, I’d feel breathless and sometimes I’d feel really nauseous. 

Being triggered is a normal part of the grieving process. It happens to so many of us. It can be really overwhelming when we get triggered. Often the triggers silence us, because we are afraid to tell people of the experience in fear of being judged.

Triggers can bring on feelings of anxiety such as heart palpitations, breathlessness, dizziness and a tingling feeling in our hands and our feet.

The way your (loved one) died can be a huge trigger. You may have sat by your (loved ones) bedside until they died. You may have found your (loved one) deceased in their home or they may have died from cancer and you watched them fade away. It doesn’t matter how they died, it will or can be a huge trigger. 

I’d like you to write in your journal some of your triggers. You can write them down in point form if you wish or in a story format. Be as expressive as you can. If you remember a particular trigger that really upset you, write it down in detail.

Leave space in your journal to add triggers that come up for you throughout the journey.    

When we understand what triggers us, we are more likely to normalise them rather than label ourselves as going mad.