“What Are Your Triggers?”
I have to be honest; it’s been a while since anything has “triggered” an intense emotional response. These responses are much fewer and farther between than in my early days of grief. After the death of my daughter Katie, I wouldn’t even allow myself to respond to the triggers. I had trained my mind to “change the thought or situation” immediately. It was my way to control my feelings and pain, which, looking back wasn’t the best decision on my part.
After the death of my son Noah I had no choice but to allow myself to feel the full impact of not only his death, but also my daughter’s death that occurred just 18 months prior. Having gone both routes (avoidance and engagement) in the grieving process, I now believe that suppressing ones emotions goes against the body and minds natural processing of the events. Basically, I allowed myself to feel and process the triggers after the death of my son, therefore after a couple of years, the triggers started to become fewer and father between.
However, with that being said, that doesn’t mean that there are not times where my emotions are triggered by thoughts or actions by others. It just means that it doesn’t happen as easy or as often as it once did.
The reason I decided to write about this topic is the fact that I recently experienced one of those triggers. It wasn’t brought on by a song on the radio or something someone had said to me, this was brought on by a dream I had a few nights ago.
Although I don’t remember everything about the dream, I do remember the specifics as to what triggered my emotions. In my dream, I was having a conversation with someone I didn’t know and this person was telling me about a complex task that he wanted me to do (I don’t remember the specifics of the task). When he was explaining the difficulty of the task to me he stated “it’s almost as hard as burying a child”. In my dream, as soon as he spoke those words, I started to weep. Not sure why it triggered my emotions, but I think it had something to do with the fact that it bothered me that this person would associate the difficulty of a “task” with the difficulty of burying a child or the fact that he acknowledged the difficulty of burying a child. Not sure, but it triggered emotions within my dream.
The dream went on for a while longer, but then I woke up and thought about what this person had said to me. I then woke up my wife to tell her about my dream and when I got to the point in the dream where I had to repeat the words “it’s almost as hard as burying a child”, I broke down and started to cry. Not sure why, it’s not like I have forgotten that I have buried two beautiful children. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that reality sits in.
Every once in a while I will be driving or sitting at my desk and the reality of the situation will sit in, it doesn’t cause me to breakdown emotionally, but I will catch myself shaking my head and thinking what the fuck. It will also trigger certain life questions like: How am I still functioning? How have I been able to continue on? Why do I still tolerate certain things in my life? Why do I still work so hard, I have no one to pass my life down to? Who will take care of me when I am old? Will anyone come and visit me or will I sit alone by myself? Why am I not living my life to the fullest? The questions go on and on. It’s not like I sit around all the time thinking about these questions, but they will occasionally cross my mind, some much more than others.
How about you? What triggers your emotions or life questions?