Grief is fluid. Yeah, there are five stages of it, everyone who has taken Psych 101 knows that. But what they don’t know, if they’ve never experienced it, is that sometimes the stages melt into each other, dissolve, disappear for a while, then reemerge and start all over again.
The word trigger has gotten a bad rap lately–or maybe it’s just been overused to the point of obscurity–but it’s true that there are things in a grieving person’s day that can cause her to get tripped up, freeze her in place, make her wonder why she’s not been grieving continuously and needed a reminder of her loss.
I have said many times that one of the hardest things to deal with after my mom died, was never seeing her name/number pop up on my phone again. I missed hearing the phone ring, looking at it, and seeing MOM flashing on the screen. Seeing her number. For a long time after she died, I couldn’t delete her number from my contacts. I liked scrolling through and seeing her there. She only disappeared when I bought a new phone and couldn’t bring myself to put her into it, knowing how pointless it was.
Another thing I missed was getting emails from my mom. When I was in college, before the age of texting, she would email me throughout the day with important information I might need to know. Upcoming events at home. News about my brothers. I never deleted any of them, but at some point, I did get a new email address and started using that more frequently. At some point, I must have let the new email transfer all my old contacts from the old email… and then allowed LinkedIn to scour my contacts for people to connect with while job searching… because yesterday, as I was going through my new notifications, the website presented me with people I should invite to join LinkedIn. And there she was, my mom. Her email address.
I hadn’t seen it in years.
And I know that all I would have to do, to never feel that lump in my throat and dramatic thump in my chest, is send the invite knowing no one will ever respond. Or delete her, finally, from my contacts.
It would make the trigger go away.
But the thing about triggers, is that sometimes you need them. And sometimes they remind you to slow down and sometimes the hurt is necessary and beneficial even if it’s unwelcome.
Sometimes, you can’t feel better until you feel worse.