Chapter 3: Challenges you may face
When your trauma or grief is triggered
Every time I see an ambulance, I feel like I’m back in my house watching the paramedics trying to resuscitate my husband.
The Humboldt accident was a trigger for me. I didn’t function very well for weeks after that. I was a mess. It was hard for me to think about what the families were going through.
I drive the road where it happened every day. It was hard at first, but it’s okay now because I don’t attach a place to the pain or to the person. So, it’s no longer a trigger for me.
Many grieving people are surprised when something or someone unexpectedly reminds them of their loss. Although this is a normal part of grief, it can be upsetting.
Experiences such as viewing the person’s body, reading the autopsy report, or attending a trial can be triggers or sources of trauma. There may also be simple everyday things that trigger or reignite your trauma response. For example, this could happen when someone speaks about the person or when you hear a song that was special to them. These waves of grief and trauma can be intense.
What may help
- Knowing that you’re likely to encounter triggers won’t stop them from happening, but it may help you to develop a sense of reassurance or control. Remind yourself that your response is normal and that it will pass.
- In time and with support, your response to these triggers may lessen or disappear. Working with a trained trauma therapist can help you with this.