Grief Triggers

October 3, 2017

Hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, sickness, mass shootings, threats of nuclear war, corruption, and what seems like a constant overabundance of disregard for suffering people. There is so much in the world today causing me to feel so despaired, so broken and sometimes so hopeless. It’s too much even when I try to stay away from the news. Every bad news report is like a grenade thrown at my already wounded heart. I know the world has always been riddled with suffering, and yet grief (plus age, maybe) has brought clarity. I SEE suffering more now. I FEEL the hurt of others more now. And I think I HURT for people a little more now.

In some ways I think this is the gift grief brings. Because I’ve hurt, I’m able to better care for others who are hurting. Because I’ve suffered, I’m more in tune with the suffering of others. Because I’ve lost, I better understand others afflicted with loss. But this can certainly take a beating on my emotional endurance. It’s suffocating, actually.

I’m trying extra hard to care for myself right now. In order to do that, sometimes solitude is necessary. Sometimes it means I have to seek laughter and joy with all my might. It doesn’t mean I’m not still hurting, still grieving, still burdened by all of it. I’m just trying to lighten the heaviness inside of me.

Yesterday I posted pictures of myself in all of my pre-teen/teenage glory on my Facebook page. I needed to laugh, even at my own expense. It helped. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to the hurting people. I wasn’t ignoring yesterday’s tragedies. Trust me, I am constantly thinking of the suffering going on all around me.

What zit?

What mullet?

Big glowing hair!


I don’t even know where to start with this one. EXTRA GRACE REQUIRED!!!!!

So much of what’s happening in our world is triggering to my personal grief (and I’m not talking about my mullet or first perm, although that was a little triggering too). The level of sadness we see on TV and read about in the news causes most people to mourn. But it’s like an oil drill for grievers. It digs deep down inside of me, causing the grief I thought I’d healed to come bubbling to the surface once again. It makes me relive painful memories; experience sorrow I thought I’d tamed, and become overwhelmed by my own resurfaced pain as I witness the suffering of others.

The scene from Las Vegas yesterday was a grief trigger.

The images from Puerto Rico have been a grief trigger.

Even Gman’s Cub Scout visit to our local fire station last weekend was a trigger.

Ambulances, fire trucks, bleeding, terrified, crying people. They catapult my mind back to the day my husband died. Suddenly, the scene in my mind is fresh again, which causes the emotions from that day to swell to the surface. No matter what I do, I can’t stop that terrible day from playing on loop in my mind. That’s the one day I wish I could erase from my memory, and yet it’s the one memory that won’t fade.

I can remember almost everything from that day. I remember how joyful the day began, which was completely in contrast to how the rest of the day unfolded. My thoughts, my emotions, who was in the room, the decisions before us….I remember it all, and I hate it. The smell of the hospital, what the strangers in the ICU waiting area looked like, the look on the doctor’s faces and the sound of their voices. I remember every detail.

Viewing images of other people’s terror, chaos, pain and grief take me back to my own.

I don’t know if this is normal, but I’m guessing that I’m not alone. I don’t know if these kinds of events will always trigger me, or if it’s just right now. Hopefully, with more practice, the world’s tragedies won’t elicit so much anxiety and emotional response. But right now, a year and a half later, it’s still hard to witness so much sadness, tragedy and suffering without a PTSD-like response.

If the world news has been triggering you lately too, I want you to know you’re not alone. I want you to take care of yourself. Join me in unplugging for a little bit so we can catch our breath. We can’t help ourselves or other people if we don’t practice self-care. When we’re bombarded with other people’s suffering on top of our own, it can smother us. That doesn’t mean we don’t care. It means we need a time-out to recuperate. We need to put on our own oxygen mask first before we can help someone else.

Finally, I want to remind myself (and you) that there IS hope! And this is where I find mine.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:6-18

Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. – Psalm 3:2-6

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:17 (NIV)

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. —  Romans 5:2-5 (NIV).

Praying for you, praying for me, and praying for all those suffering. Thankful we have hope.

Extra grace,


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  • Reply Don October 3, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    You perfectly stated what I started thinking yesterday, last night and into this morning. That along with the sad news about Tom Petty (who a friend of mine and I had talked about seeing last summer, but didn’t). All I kept thinking about were the four times that Arlene was in ICU following surgeries and her heart attacks. And then I started picturing the scenes in the hospitals as they were working on the wounded and going back to her experience and the many vigils that I and later her sister and I kept. Then I started thinking about the grieving families as well and going back to when I was told that she had passed. Yesterday was such a hard day.

  • Reply Pamela October 3, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Beautiful post Jodi. 2 years later events like what transpired in Las Vegas and the hurricanes ( Puerto Rico, Texas & Florida), have indeed spiked my own grief responses. I like your PTSD reference, that’s exactly how it feels to me. I guess with the better empathic skills and compassion I have developed since my husband passed, although in day to day living I see them as a blessing, they too become a double edged sword. I simply feel too much. As you said, time to unplug and do some self-care.

  • Reply Eileen Boggess October 3, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I can recall every second of overhearing the phone call my mom received when my brother Tommy passed away. The thought of her screams still make me cry thirty years later. Thanks for reminding us we are not alone.

  • Reply Linda Gunger October 3, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Oh my goodness. This post really hits home. I just entered my second year of grief in August, and I actually thought I was doing pretty good, but then, all of September and now October I have been in tears. I felt like all the dealing with my wedding anniversary, hurricane Irma, insurance adjusters, a friend moved to hospice, and the death of the parents of a coworker and a student were just too much to take. Then when I had a stomach flu and was home all by myself, it really knocked me for a loop. My mind went to all the horrible places of dying alone. Then to hear about Las Vegas (I am from Orlando where the Pulse tragedy occurred), it actually made me feel even worse. I keep hoping for some better days as the past 6 weeks have been just awful. My trust is that God will bring joy back to me. I just hope it is sooner rather than later. I really am struggling to find my footing once again. I don’t know how people without God can get through it.

  • Reply Caroline Sellers October 3, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Jodi, I loved the pictures you posted. It brought a smile to my heart and made me think happy thoughts rather than all the grief that surrounds me. By the way you were a cutie pie!
    My husband died very suddenly this past November 3rd. We were together in the morning. Kissed good bye and each went our own way. When I returned home in the early afternoon I found him asleep in a chair. I called 911 but he could not be revived. We were high school sweetheart married for 52 years. Ever since that day I feel so much more compassion for the hurting. Thank you for your blog. It surely helps to know that I am not alone in my thoughts. God Bless You!

  • Reply Dorothy J Wright October 3, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    My husband has been gone for 14 months now and you always seem to be right on spot with my feelings. I love your pictures. I am much older than y0u, 72, but we still have he same suffering.

    • Reply Maryellen October 4, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      Dorothy, I don’t think grief knows age. It hurts no matter who you are grieving for and will always be with you. I think you learn to live differently after you experience grief. Always remember that LOVE PREVAILS. ❤️❤️❤️😘

  • Reply Joy Brumback October 3, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    I am not a news watcher, but my son was visiting and I asked him to turn the news on since we had been discussing the tragedy of Las Vegas. After about a half hour I turned it off, because I also know I can only take on so much of others’ pain. I told my son, though, “Sixty families suddenly lost a loved one. Their lives will never be the same.” and I began to think how different life is for us. The vacancy is felt in every situation and every hour of the day. Thank you, Jodi, for your thoughtful post.

  • Reply Chari Yandek October 3, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I just want you to know how much I appreciate your blog and your transparency. It really helps me feel like what I am going through is normal and I can totally relate to everything you say. Thank you!

  • Reply Machell October 4, 2017 at 1:14 am

    This month is really hard for me. On the 23rd it will be one year since I lost my husband. He was my rock, the love of my life and my souls mate. I miss him so much. And yes with all the things that have happened lately especially HARVEY sometimes I think I am in a downward spiral. I do find you comments to be so helpful and relevant. Thank you!

  • Reply Virginia Mehaffie October 5, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Your words, Jodi, are perfect, and the comments that follow show how they hit their mark. Thank you for your thoughtful, contemplative expressions as we all attempt to share our grief together. As we do so, it seems to diminish just the tiniest bit. Bless you.

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