Triggers of Loss

~Kim Libertini

The change of season was quick this year.  Overnight, I woke to crisp cold air and the smell of fallen leaves.  The hours of daylight are decreasing. I feel it.  Fall reminds me of home. A small town nestled in the Hudson River Valley of New York is where I was raised.  Home is a place I haven’t returned to since my mom passed. It was fall when my mom died.  It’s been nine long years since she’s been gone.  Yet..that day,…… the ride home, and …….the toughest goodbye of my life are crystal clear each year when fall arrives. My way of managing those emotions is to cook my mom’s fall recipes and share stories of her with my sons.  Somehow the smell of acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, make me smile as I remember my mom.  

I’ve navigated the grief path long enough to recognize that there are some events that exacerbate the eternal ache I bear for those I have loved and lost. Talking is how I sort through my stress.  Adam not only listened, but he offered this soothing and calming voice of reason. It’s been five years without him. The world is so stressful right now.  It makes sense that each night, when I arrive home….I feel it.  I feel his absence and the gaping hole that exists in my life.  I have substituted early morning exercise to help cope with my stress. So much so that 5 am workouts are a part of my daily routine seven days a week. I have discovered that an 8-mile run on an open road can clear my mind and offer relief.   

I was never a turkey lover. My grandma died on Thanksgiving.  A few years later, so did my dad.  My mom passed in late fall and so Thanksgiving was the first holiday I spent in her absence. It makes sense it’s a trigger.  Dating back to my childhood Thanksgiving was never ranked on my top holiday favorites list. These days, I have completely dissociated from the holiday altogether.  So much so that my new tradition is to boycott Thanksgiving foods and spend the day dragging out the Christmas decorations.  So anyone that happens to drive by my house on Thanksgiving, you will find me hanging the Christmas lights on the house and happily singing holiday tunes. Don’t be surprised if macaroni with meatballs is on the stove. It’s how I cope. 

We all have triggers.  In the acute stages of grief, the triggers are frequent and the intensity unbearable.  Over time the frequency decreases. Somewhere along the path, we not only learn to recognize the triggers but we find ways to cope with them.  You are not alone as you figure out how to survive and move forward after loss.  I am right here beside you.  

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