September 6, 2012

Learning to Live Through Loss by Understanding the Factors That Trigger Grief

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Marina Mails, NCC, LPC
HPCG Bereavement Counselor

A song on the radio, a newspaper article, a comment from a friend – grief triggers can surprise us and cause intense emotion when we least expect it. A simple visit to the grocery store can be a common example. While there, we see our loved one’s favorite foods or realize that we must change our shopping habits. Many grieving clients have found themselves walking the aisles of their local retail establishment in tears, fearing they were “going crazy.”

In counseling, we assure our clients that their reaction to grief cues is normal. When your grief is triggered, remember to breathe. You are saddened, because you loved the person deeply. Invite this moment as an opportunity to feel close to the person you have lost, a time to remember his or her memory even though it is painful. Know that the intense hurt that surfaces after a grief trigger is temporary.

There are times when “feeling” the grief that is triggered is inconvenient or impossible. You may need to distract yourself to “get through” a difficult moment, if you cannot attend to your emotions in the moment. If you find the pain of grief prompts to be overwhelming, you may benefit from sharing your feelings with a trusted friend, clergy person or bereavement counselor. Being flexible and open to grief signals may help you get through them. When we put energy in to fighting how we feel or judging how we feel, we may prolong and complicate our distress. Whatever your grief causes, we wish you peace and the confidence to know that you will heal.