Triggers and Grief

We have decided to write this topic, as we have started to become more aware of situations or circumstances that cause us to think of the times when our Dad was in the hospital. These moments catch us off guard and come from nowhere….

Please see Triggers and Grief which covers:

  1. Introduction
  2. Illustrative examples of Triggers
  3. YouTube Video: Triggers
  4. My story (Tara Greene) Triggers
  5. My sister story (Tanya Greene) Triggers
  6. Triggers
  7. Prevention of Triggers
  8. Types of Triggers
  9. Dealing with Triggers
  10. Video’s on Triggers
  11. Further useful Links on Triggers
  12. Our Final Thoughts

© Copyright 2019 Grief Probate Journey Blog *PLEASE NOTE THIS INFORMATION IS SOURCED FROM the UK and AMERICAN WEBSITES*. *We are not experts in this field, we are speaking purely on our own experience with information sought from the internet to give further examples.*

1. Introduction:

We have decided to write this topic, as we have started to become more aware of situations or circumstances that cause us to think of the times when our Dad was in the hospital. These moments catch us off guard and come from nowhere. They are completely unexpected moments and we do our best to deal with them whenvever these situations may occur. This is why we felt it would be useful to explore this matter further and also share our story and findings .


2. Illustrative examples of Triggers:


3: YouTube Video: Triggers

3.1 Grief Brief 9 – Painful Triggers


4. My story (Tara Greene) Triggers

There have been many incidents that cause triggers for me. A few are listed below:

4.1 The dark

As our Dad lost his sight whilst in the hospital, the dark really freaks me out. In admission, I’ve always been scared of the dark to an extent. But this being scared of dark is different. It’s almost as though if I’m not able to turn on a light or get out of the darkness quickly I’ll have a panic attack. Sometimes I have to close my eyes rather than have my eyes open in the dark. It also makes me feel sad, like what was it like for our Dad.  Having had sight all his life, and then all of a sudden, it’s gone.

4.2 Ambulance

For a while hearing an ambulance siren and seeing it go through traffic lights would be a trigger for me. It would be worse if it was dark. This is because when our Dad was readmitted to the hospital, (in 2017) when the ambulance arrived it was early hours of the morning, so it was dark. This caused a trigger for me and immnese sadness for a long while. I think this is because he left to go to the hospital in an ambulance but never came back home.

4.3 Seeing staff members from the hospital

I saw a member of staff from the hospital that our Dad was an inpatient. I saw this staff member outside of the hospital. This was since our Dad had passed away. When I saw this staff member, I froze on the spot. I literally couldn’t move, and in an instant,  I was catapulted back to the days when hospital life was my daily life. I think I stood on the same spot until I snapped myself out of the moment to be able to walk away. It took a moment for me to compose myself and come back to myself. It was a strange surreal feeling, I did not like it at all.

4.4 Hearing terms used by hospital staff

This was something that took me by surprise. I had been talking to my sister, I can’t recall what the conversation was about, somehow my sister mentioned a department in the hospital that was part of our Dads medical team (Ophthalmology). Straight away I got this feeling inside my chest. My insides felt funny in an instant, and all the memories of the hospital and that medical team came flooding back.

4.5 Songs on the radio

Songs played on radio stations can transport me back to days of the hospital and the radio stations that would play on the hospital wards. This also brings on a strange feeling inside me which I can’t really explain. It does make me feel sad though.

4.6 Visiting the Optician

This really took me by surprise. I didn’t expect visiting the optician to offset a trigger, but it did.

I recently with my sister for my Nephew’s eye tests. Everything was fine until they had to test their eyes. As soon as I saw the machine that was used, I was instantly transported back to 2016 and the time my Dad was in the hospital when I would go with him for his eye appointments. Right away I was catapulted back to the hospital, the way my Dad was feeling, the things he was being told by staff in regards to his eye sight.

I really wasn’t prepared for any of this and tried my best to contain what I was feeling as I didn’t want to make it obvious, I was experiencing this moment. It didn’t feel appropriate. I didn’t want to draw attention to it, especially as I was there for my Nephew’s.

4.7 Attending the Hospital where our Dad was an inpatient

The first time I had to go anywhere near the hospital after what happened was extremely difficult. It would instantly remind me of what was once my every day. Then the thoughts would go to what a horrendous experience and ordeal the whole situation was and still is.

Our mum has appointments and is connected to the hospital. We are naturally overprotective of our Mum because of the outcome for our Dad. Because of this, we try our very best to arrange appointments for her and ourselves at alternative hospitals.

The trigger also occurs if we must go anywhere near where our Dad was, for example, the wing he was in, or a department he might have been to. ( X-Ray as an example).

A massive trigger that I have just remembered. Our Mum needed to go A&E, the nearest one was the hospital in which our Dad was an inpatient. To begin with, when my sister was there, we were not in the main A&E but then she needed to leave to take the children home. Shortly after this my mum and I went into the main A&E. My mum was having tests done, they had her hooked up to machines monitoring her heart rate and all sorts of things.

This was all too much for me to handle. The reason why this was even more difficult for me is that it was the exact same date our Dad was originally admitted to hospital three years before. So, on 5th September 2019 once again I am in the same A&E but this time with my Mum.

I cannot even begin to explain the feelings and emotions that were going on for me. My tummy became upset, my head was all over the place with worry. The thing about it is, I knew my mum and sister were not aware of the significance of the date, and because I didn’t want to alert them to it to cause any further distress to them, I kept it to myself. Who knows how our Mum was feeling having to be in A&E.? Our Mums wellbeing was the main and only important priority at that moment in time.

It was such a horrible experience; I couldn’t believe history had repeated itself in this way. After everything we are going through this was the absolute last thing we needed.

Before we even set out, one thing I knew was, I am NOT leaving that hospital without my Mum, no matter what, that would NOT be an option. This was even before I was aware of the date. I’m not sure what happened that made me aware.

I think it might have been whilst talking to my sister, as neither of us was happy that this is where or Mum had to go, but at the same time she needed to go and this was the nearest place so there was no other option.

Thankfully after some amount of hours, I left the hospital with my Mum. That was the BEST FEELING EVER! An INSTANT load off my mind. But something else that shocked me is that even though I was adamant on not leaving the hospital without my Mum, a Doctor that came to conclude my mum’s results etc suggested he might like her to stay in overnight. As soon as those words left his mouth, I think I went into instant shut down mode, so instead of stating reasons why I didn’t want that I became mute like the news just froze me. I started tuning back in and hearing my Mum telling the Doctor why she feels she doesn’t need to stay, and he agreed. I literally felt like Halleluiah.

It was only when things had settled down that I then told my Mum and sister about it being that significant date.

This blog is making me realise the extent to which I block out traumatic experiences. Once the moment is over, I literally block it out of my mind to the point I do not even know it happened.

I also started realising this when having my counselling sessions. My sister and I were both having counselling at one point, which has ended now. Ironically it was right across the road from where our Dad was an inpatient. This was very difficult, as I was sitting talking about my thoughts and feelings and the place where it all stemmed from is right across the road from us.

To begin with, it did hinder how my sessions went as I felt it was stopping me from fully telling and talking about my real truths. In the end, I disclosed where the hospital was, and from there I almost felt a sense of relief as it was one less thing to have to hold in. At the same time, it did feel strange as we know we are making the complaint against them. It felt like a catch 22 situation.

The sessions really helped to make a difference and as we are still going through this experience, I think we will both try to start seeking therapy once again. Because of our situation, we also have a topic on our blog called Counselling Health and Wellbeing.

4.9 Triggers when away

I went away to Amsterdam for the weekend (August), this was for my birthday. It was a very stressful time back at home with things we were arraging in regards to our Dad’s affairs, we were finalising a huge big decision that was life changing. At the time this holiday was planned, my sister and I had no idea we would be in the position we were facing. I felt really bad on this holiday as my friends had made such an effort and were so excited as was I, but the matters at home crossed over into the holiday and greatly affected my mood. I felt an extra guilt and sadness as this was the first time I was going away with one of my friends. I was extremely distressed on the first day that we arrived, but then when going for a walk, I couldn’t believe my eyes, when walking down the road and taking in the sights, my eyes were drawn to a flower, it was the Nasturtium. This made my day, and gave me a feeling I cannot explain, I was overlwhemd, overjoyed, but also took it as a sign that my Dad was telling me that everything is going to be alright. The Nasturtium has special meaning for my family and I as since discovering it growing in our Dad’s garden since he passed away, we then found out the meaning of it:

Nasturtium represents victory in battle and conquest“.

From this day I tried to hold on the feeling, and the sign that my Dad had given, and tried my very best to enjoy the remainder of the holiday.

I couldnt let this moment pass and not take a picture of it, please see it below:

I was recently on holiday in America (October). On the day I arrived and was outside our apartment a man was walking by that caught my attention, he reminded me of my Dad. He went into a corner shop where we were staying, the feeling it brought over me was almost surreal. It stopped me in my tracks, to begin with I think I was staring at him in almost disbelief, but then it became too much and I had to look away. The next day when we set out for the day, I saw the man again walking into the same corner shop, again the feeling it gave me was surreal. I also thought what are the chances of us being outside at the same time two days in a row,

On another occasion whilst there I walked past the Apollo Theatre. This was nostalgic for me as it brought back memories when I was last there and saw a show. I was in high spirits because of this. I then looked up at the display and noticed someone’s name with our surname exactly the same way it is spelt. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. (It is rare our surname is seen spelt the exact same way). I stood there until I was able to get a clear picture of it. My fascination was so strong that I took a picture of it both by day and by night. I am so happy and appreciate that my friend who I was with took the time to humour me so that I could do this (It took a little bit of time). I know she was aware of what it meant for me which is nice. The pictures are below:

We were in between States whilst out there. Whilst travelling to the next state, on the coach, I looked out the window and saw a billboard that had a telephone number on it. The beginning of the numbers was the exact same numbers of our Dads telephone number. Again, I could not believe it. This made me feel like, are these signs that my Dad is here with me. That made me feel warm inside, but again so surreal to contemplate and take in.

When we were in the new state, the signs continued, we visited the George Washington Monument, and on the way down panels in the lift become transparent so that you can see inside the structure of the building. My eyes and camera managed to capture a Plaque that said our surname. I couldn’t believe it once again. The picture is below:

We visited a Casino, I didn’t win, but the numbers that came up was 777. At first, I didn’t really take on what I was seeing, and then I remembered the number 7 and the significance of this number. Right away I took a pic of it as it was something that I couldn’t let pass by or walk away from. The picture is below:

Below are illustrative examples of the meaning of Angel Number 777.

4.10 The angel number 777

“The angel number 777 is the number of abundance. When your angels start sending you this message, it means that the abundance you have been waiting for is just there, waiting to be unlocked. It’s waiting to be accessed and to be aligned with your energy. (18 Nov 2018)”.

All these signs truly made me believe that maybe my Dad was beside me keeping me safe on my travels. That was an amazing feeling but again surreal and almost strange to contemplate.

This blog also makes me realise that at times we do not take in the magnitude of the greatness of things that happen around us, and sadly this all comes down to time. We are so busy and caught up with various things that we do not give ourselves enough space to take these positive things in.

Thinking about this made us do a topic: Time: Angel Numbers 7: Biblical Meaning Number 7.

4.11 Probate

The mention of the word probate. I didn’t realise how much this process had been affecting me until I was sitting watching TV, and every time the word probate was mentioned I got a feeling in my chest.  I tried to ignore it, but this feeling inside wouldn’t go away. Every time the word was mentioned it felt like I was almost being slapped in the face. This is when it became evident this blog needed to take shape for us to share our story. That was the moment I started writing down my feelings and the start of this blog took place.

We really have blocked the time our Dad was in the hospital out of our memory as it’s painful and sad. I feel sadness at how our Dads time in the hospital went. It’s like those memories have been locked away in a vault.  And they’ve been locked there to protect us from thinking about it. This is so we can keep pushing forward with the Probate process.


5. My sister story (Tanya Greene) Triggers

I could be walking down the road and see an older Gentleman (which is most of the time) who may or may not look or even remind me of my Dad but when they do remind me I find myself trying to look away, trying to not let it affect me but all I feel is sadness and loss it starts the thought process of not being able to believe that our Dad is no longer here and then it can go deeper to feel the pain and guilt of the fact that I couldn’t be there as much as I wanted to be.

I had just not long had my second child and even though I was there every day, to begin with, I was constantly being told by hospital staff that it’s not good for children to be there, I was totally and utterly conflicted, being at the hospital was not a place for him/them or even myself as the risk of infection was too great, this also meant that I didn’t get to see my sister much as she had to be at the hospital which also meant that she couldn’t be around the boy’s much!

Even though I knew that I needed to be there for my children (which really goes without saying) I couldn’t and still can’t justify not being there as much as I used to be and wanted to be for my Dad and even though my sister and I were in constant contact every day about what was going on she did video calls when possible it could never be the same! I did then and do still now think could it have made a difference.

When I have incidents such as above I have to bring myself back to the here and now so that I don’t lose myself any more than I feel I have already.

Hospital’s especially the hospital where our Dad last was is also is a big one, being there, the smells seeing familiar staff or just any staff provokes emotions, I’ve never really liked hospitals beforehand but this now is on a whole other level, as a result, I try not to have my appointments at the same hospital but when I do have to especially when I had one in the same block I felt every emotion come over me, I really had to fight what was going on internally, I just wanted to run out of there, I wanted my appointment to be over with, even though it wasn’t the same floor and it wasn’t a ward I had to go to (at that time), the whole layout was the same it made me feel dizzy, the walls felt like they were closing in on me and I was fighting back the tears and the overall panic I was experiencing, I was with my sister and my youngest son at the time.

I was telling my sister that I wasn’t doing very well but I knew that she would also be experiencing the same sort of feelings (especially as for her, she practically lived at the hospital!)

I also had to think about the fact that she would more than likely have to be leaving to get my oldest son from school (which she did) for me, I feel it all added to my panic as I knew that I was going to be there alone but it also helped me to calm down as my focus was shifted to her getting him on time. After this, I made a mental note that I always have to make sure that I request either one of two other hospitals for my/our appointments.

Another time I experienced one was when I returned to work for a short time the very mention of probate can be a big trigger also some of the customers especially a particular customer who is not of the same ethnicity as my Dad but who has similar characteristics and mannerisms of him, it totally freaked me out & caused me to break down.

Going shopping to places I would frequently go to with my Dad is another big one! I thought I had got to a point where I was able to push that away but quite often randomly I will have a moment where I’m fighting to regain my composure
other triggers are listening to or hearing music from the past that brings on feelings of nostalgia which is quickly followed by a deep sadness and loss where again I have to fight to compose myself, sometimes it doesn’t even have to be music from the past it could be a current new song that reminds me of a familiar song or a song that has nothing to do with anything but it makes me feel sad and I have to pull myself together so that I don’t end up totally breaking down.

I’ve found that choking is a big one! in the past, I would have the normal chocking fit which would bring on a sense of panic but the first time I chocked after everything happened to my Dad in the hospital it was different, I was struggling to breathe, (which is normal).

I felt like it was going into my lungs it was so painful and scary and in the midst of this I started thinking about my Dad and realising that this is how he must of felt and suffered the first time he was chocking and it went into his lungs, the biggest difference that I could never compare is that as my sister told me, (because she was there to witness it) his lips were turning blue and a crash team had to come and get him back!

I don’t know if this was initially there at the back of my mind when I first started chocking but I do know that since that time anytime I choke now which happens a lot more often than ever before, I have the same feeling and I have to talk myself down so that I can breathe and stop panicking, I think that I even might bring it on slightly as if I seem like I’m going to choke I start panicking!

I feel the same panic now when anyone is chocking but I try to pull myself together and appear to be calm to stop myself possibly overreacting.  There are so many more things that are triggers for me, the ones I don’t understand and that (apart from chocking) scare me the most are the ones that seem to just come from nowhere without warning and I can’t explain why they take me by surprise and are one of the ones that I really have to battle with to push away.  They try to take over my whole being, so I have to fight not to panic because they’re harder to shake off, so I find it even harder to take control of them. I’ve always suffered from anxiety looking back on it now, but this all seems new and on a different level! Life is very different now we are trying to navigate ourselves around it but it’s not easy as we are having to fight and battle every day.


6. Triggers

6.1 What does it mean to be triggered?

“What does it mean to be “triggered?” In recent years, this term has been casually used to refer to the experience of having an emotional reaction, usually to some type of disturbing content in the form of media or in another social context, be that violence, mention of suicide, or other situation. (26 Jul 2019)”.

6.2 What does it feel like to be triggered?

“Triggering occurs when any certain something (a “trigger”) causes a negative emotional response. The emotional response can be fear, sadness, panic, flashbacks, and pain, as well as any physical symptoms associated with these emotions (shaking, loss of appetite, fainting, fatigue, and so on). (7 Jun 2015)”.

6.3 What triggers PTSD?

“For people with PTSD, it is very common for their memories to be triggered by sights, sounds, smells or even feelings that they experience. These triggers can bring back memories of the trauma and cause intense emotional and physical reactions, such as raised heart rate, sweating and muscle tension”.

6.4 Can a person be a trigger?

“Triggers can take many forms. They may be a physical location or the anniversary of the traumatic event. A person could also be triggered by internal processes such as stress. (2 May 2018)”.

6.5 What triggers anxiety?

“But long-term or chronic stress can lead to long-term anxiety and worsening symptoms, as well as other health problems. Stress can also lead to behaviors like skipping meals, drinking alcohol, or not getting enough sleep. These factors can trigger or worsen anxiety, too. (1 May 2018)”.

6.6 What triggers re traumatisation?

“Triggers. The trigger can be anything that provokes fear or distressing memories in the affected person, and which the associates with a traumatic experience. Some common triggers are: a person, especially a person who was present during a traumatic event or resembles someone involved in that event in some respect”.


7. Prevention of Triggers

7.1 How do you prevent a trigger?

“Take a look at some of the most common addiction triggers and consider how to avoid them””.

When the stress trigger builds, take action at that moment to minimize it as much as possible to avoid turning to alcohol or drugs”.

  1. “Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and count to 10”.
  2. “Do something you enjoy”.
  3. “Work it out. (11 Jul 2017)”

7.2 How do I identify my triggers?

“Identify Your Triggers”

  1. “Take out a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Find a quiet, private place to record your thoughts during this exercise”.
  2. “On your piece of paper, make three columns. On the top of the first column, write “Trigger.”
  3. “Call to mind the last time you had an intense negative emotional response”. (17 Jun 2018).

7.3 Do triggers ever go away?

“With practice, the reaction to your emotional triggers could subside, but they may never go away. The best you can do is to quickly identify when an emotion is triggered and then choose what to say or do next. (8 Jul 2015)”.


8. Types of Triggers

8.1 What are examples of emotional triggers?

“Drive your sales with 7 powerful emotional triggers”

  • “Belonging. Human nature gives most people a strong desire to belong to something; a group, a clan, a gang, a family, or a social network”.
  • “Fear. Fear is a powerfull emotion that often override thought processes and produce reactions without conscious thought”.
  • “Guilt”.
  • “Trust”.
  • “Leadership”.
  • “Values”.
  • “(Instant) Gratification. (2 Oct 2015)”.

8.2 Trauma Trigger

“A trauma trigger is a psychological stimulus that prompts recall of a previous traumatic experience. The stimulus itself need not be frightening or traumatic and may be only indirectly or superficially reminiscent of an earlier traumatic incident, such as a scent or a piece of clothing”. Wikipedia

8.3 What are the 3 types of behavioral triggers?

“Common Dementia Behavior Triggers”

  • “Agitation”.
  • “Aggression”.
  • “Repetitive actions”.
  • “Verbal outbursts”.
  • “Sleep disturbances”.
  • “Hallucinations, delusions or paranoia”.
  • “Wandering or wanting to go home”.
  • “Hoarding or rummaging. More items… (15 Nov 2017)”.


9. Dealing with Triggers

9.1 How do you deal with a triggered person?

“Here are some things you can do to reduce the risk of triggering”:

  1. “Learn What the Person’s Triggers Are”.
  2. “Be a ‘Tester’”
  3. “Look Things Up in Advance”.
  4. “Let Them Know That They Can Contact You”.
  5. “Be Physically Close to Them”.
  6. “Distract and/or Comfort Them”.
  7. “Don’t Be Judgmental”.
  8. “Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You Make a Mistake. (7 Jun 2015)”.

9.2 How do you deal with anger triggers?

“Strategies to keep anger at bay”

  1. “Check yourself. It’s hard to make smart choices when you’re in the grips of a powerful negative emotion”.
  2. “Don’t dwell”.
  3. “Change the way you think”.
  4. “Relax”.
  5. “Improve your communication skills”.
  6. “Get active”.
  7. “Recognize (and avoid) your triggers”.

9.3 What happens when you have a PTSD episode?

“The most common symptoms induced are physical pain, dissociation, and disorientation. PTSD physical pain and residual symptoms are intense. Because your loved one has had PTSD take over, certain things happen to their mind and body. During a PTSD episode the sufferer is involuntarily mentally checked out”.


10. Video’s on Triggers:


11. Further useful links on Triggers:

11.1 Grief Triggers

11.2  Managing Grief:


12. Our Final Thoughts:

Grieving is a process. A process that does not follow direction or a path. It follows it’s own course and you can only try your best to move along with it whilst getting on with:

  • Daily life tasks
  • Routines
  • Family
  • Friends

All while still trying to live as normally as you can in your new circumstance.

Grieving has no time length, I think you never really get over losing someone, instead you must try and find a way of living in your new existence without that person being there.

We all grieve differenlty, taking things at our own pace, doing what works best. I think if you are true to:

  • Yourself
  • Thoughts
  • Feelings

These are the things that positively help with the process. Thoughts are better out than in, and it’s good to talk. But these are things that can only be done when it is right for you and be in your own time.



6 thoughts on “Triggers and Grief

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