Holidays are a prime time of year to be surrounded by traditions and memories but if you are grieving a loss of a loved one those sudden memories may not be pleasant in the moment. Have you ever found yourself hijacked by an emotion and or memory? A trigger is a sight, smell, event, sound, etcetera, that causes a sudden rush of emotions and memories. For those who are grieving this Christmas season it’s important to prepare yourself for the sudden onset of those paralyzing moments. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Brainstorm what may take your breath away (triggers).
Go through your mental list of associations with the one you lost. Are there certain smells you associate with them? What about sights? Or events? Take plenty of time to think of the many things you could encounter this year as you head into the Christmas season that may remind you of them.
2. Come up with a plan.
Once you have your list of possible triggers, come up with a plan that will help you cope with them. Here are some examples:
- Come up with a script in case you suddenly need to leave a Christmas party.
- Driving separately to events allows you to leave whenever you want to and not have to wait on others.
- Allowing yourself to be tearful and weep if necessary.
- Spending extra time with someone else you love that understands your limitations (Spouse, grandchildren, friends, etc).
- Change your routine or traditions as needed to allow yourself grace.
3. Find ways to remember.
Allow yourself to enjoy memories of the past and appreciate the love you shared. Purposefully remembering well will help protect you from the sudden memories that may come when triggered.
- Pull out an old photo album or scroll through your camera reel.
- Making a special ornament in memory of someone.
- Purposefully setting their place at the table to remember them.
- Talking about them with others rather than ignoring their influence.
And above all remember to be gracious with yourself as you navigate through the trigger-filled Christmas season.