Triggers and Intangible Loss
A few weeks ago I was getting my kids ready for school. The dogs were outside playing, and inside everything was flowing perfectly. The girls had everything set for school about 35 minutes earlier than usual. Looking back, I realize that should have been a red flag!
The dogs began barking and letting me know something wasn't right. When I brought them inside, I began to hear an awful sound of moaning and someone calling for help.
As I walked towards our long driveway, I saw a man walking towards me in pain. I got closer to see what was happening, only to realize he was in an accident in front of our home and flipped his car in a ditch.
He continued to limp and cry out in pain, a sound that has stuck with me since. I immediately went into emergency mode and tried to calm him down, get him warm, assess the situation as best I could and call 911.
Once the dispatcher had all the information she needed, I hung up and got back to the patient. As I ran in and out of the house to get blankets to keep him warm, I saw little eyes peaking out of the windows watching me.
Within a few minutes, the fire whistle blew through the town, and sirens were coming from all directions. For a split second I felt relief and then nauseous. I couldn't understand why though. There wasn't much blood or terribly obvious injuries. I had him warm and somewhat calm, I just couldn't figure it out and I surly couldn't get rid of this feeling.
As all of the1st Responders arrived, they pulled down the driveway with lights flashing and sirens belting out one more scream. My heart was pounding, my voice shuttering and all I can think is "what is wrong with me..this was my life with Dan for so long."
Once the paramedics and police took over, I stepped back and realized having all of the chaos in my face and at my home threw me back 12 years ago to when Dan passed away.
It wasn't the part about helping someone who is hurt, but it was everything that came with it.
I realized that as far as I have come in my Grief Recovery, there is still a piece of me that gets rattled when I experience an event that takes me back to the weeks following his passing.
When I realized the lights and sirens being at my house was a "trigger", I knew I couldn't ignore it. Ignoring the physical and emotional feelings I was having would only cause me more harm then good.
I reached out to a girlfriend and fellow police wife. She listened, read my text and continued to offer to listen anytime in the future. She DID'T try to blow me off, shut me down or try to redirect my feelings, and I was and always will be thankful for that.
I'm going to tell you, it took me a good 2 weeks feel like I could focus fully on my day to day. I remember saying to myself, "I need someone like me right now."
I know the tools to work through this, I know what not to do so that I can stay in the great place I have been for so long, I also know I am human and I was traumatized by my husbands death and that will always be a work in progress.
Grief not only occurs after a Death or Divorce, it also occurs when we lose our security, a feeling of safety, a loss of control and lost hopes, dreams and expectations. These are the intangible losses we don't always think will cause Grief.
I realized that as my mind took me back to a very traumatic and sad time in my life, it also reminded me of the time I had felt a loss of safety without Dan being there to protect me, a loss of control and of course the lost hopes, dreams and expectations I had for our life together.
Gaining this awareness was not easy, but I have been able to work through it with the tools I know and teach. Next time when I see the lights or hear the siren, I may flinch a little, and that's ok, but I will not be knocked down again.
Realizing what I needed to do that day instead of pushing my thoughts and feelings away and out of my mind has allowed me to release the pain and make more room for the great memories that I will allow to live in my heart.
If you would like more information on Grief Recovery, join me April 26th for a live webinar.
I hope to see you there!