The Broken heart- Trigger response

January 31, 2010 at 2:15 pm 14 comments

A couple of days ago I wrote the post Dying of a Broken Heart???



I have of course ( as is my nature) researched grief, grief counselling , drugs you name it . The grief that overwhelms is supposed to lessen? Time heals and all that – but in my research I have discovered the triggers.

Apparently , as I understand it, our brain when we experience something new such as intense emotion, for example, a very joyful event ( maybe the birth of your child), a great love, great anger, fright, terror and death in its varying degrees, the brain takes on board the information and at the same time notes and files away the surrounding sights , smells , sounds etc that accompany that new happenstance.

You can apparently be blithely going about your everyday business when you may- do , see, smell , hear one of those pieces of information – stored by our brain . Those stored bits of information “triggers the brain” to bring to the fore of our consciousness everything that was connected with that piece of information- the sorrow, joy, anger, fear or what have you .

The trick is apparently to recognize the negative triggers, avoid them where possible and understand the process.

Sometimes the triggers bring back moments of great happiness and joy- that is a good thing. Hopefully we can access them when we have need, but even then there is a risk. For example it is no good to look for escape in rememberance of holding your child for the first time when you have lost your child , that trigger can backfire on you. You search for the “happiness triggers” warily .

When triggers bring great anger or sadness it can be “debilitating” ( that word actually is one of my triggers)

It is a bit like fire, you know not to put your hand in the flames because the reaction is painful, so you are supposed to do the same with your “painful triggers” identify them and put them in quarantine .

Drugs can block the triggers until the body and time can heal – maybe for some , but I think I would have to be totally put under for the foreseeable future to block all my triggers.

Understanding why things are happening helps , but it doesn’t stop them happening. You just try and stay away from “triggers”

I know I will never go to my favourite florist shop in person ever again since it is across from that damnable Calvary Cemetery . I know that I will never go near 7th Street again , The trigger of that church, some parishioners and a priest brings on a plethora of emotions, all of them intense.

I will be staying away from two local banks due to their “employees” even if one is my own bank . I will never if at all possible ever set foot in the Cleveland Clinic , I would have to be drugged to oblivion. As for Drs……. ( Thoughts about them will be coming later)

I have thrown away and burned clothes that I wore in that ICU , I have burned photos of people who have caused great pain so I don’t come across their likeness. I cannot bear the thought of ever watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” again. I have tried to destroy or avoid my “known triggers”. Yes! I know which triggers cause pain!

The triggers are “legion” – they can be as mundane as filling a hot water bottle – the very thing that once gave me comfort initially when I was dealing with the diagnosis of the obscenity . And more recently the filling of hot bottles almost hourly for my son in Texas so he could deal with the pain on his joints and muscles because of the SGN35 . Even the bloody kettle , I have to get another one that is not the same model.

A simple act yesterday , not thinking, and deciding I needed some warmth for an aching shoulder set off a cavalcade of raw emotion, just the act of filling the hot water bottle .

Logically I knew why it was happening but that didn’t help. The triggers sometimes come in the form of flashbacks . I know I can never cook “stewed steak” again or “grilled salmon and asparagus” . I will never cook for or celebrate Thanksgiving or have another Christmas Tree in this house.
I stay away from people , those I care about and who care about me , because their kindness and concern triggers!

I am surrounded by triggers. It is painful, I understand why, and how it happens but it happens just the same and the physical ripple effect is noted by a breaking heart.

Entry filed under: death, health, medical, personal opinion. Tags: , .

Dying of a Broken Heart???? A Mother’s Love – A Memory- A Moonbeam

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. truth  |  January 31, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Loraine, I understand how you feel. Truly, I do. However, Chris wouldn’t want you to do this. I don’t think he would want you to never have Thanksgiving again or a Christmas tree. I believe he would want you to have them for Gavin. He would want you to use those special holidays as a way to keep him alive for Gavin! Thanksgiving is a difficult holiday for me because it was my brother’s favorite holiday. But I keep traditions alive for my son, who looks so much like my brother I have often called him by my brother’s name. Because of keeping my brother alive, my son speaks of him often and told me he feels he actually knows him even though he isn’t with us anymore. I know that would mean a lot to my brother. Keep Chris alive for Gavin, Nikki, Jim, your mum, his father, yourself but mostly keep his memory alive for him! I’d like to say that the pain lessens but I don’t know that it does. I think I spent the first year mostly numb trying to get through the horrific “firsts” of that year. The second year took my by surprise by how devastated I was and how angry I was! The third year was my most outwardly emotional. I don’t understand it, it just is. But I talk about my brother and have his pictures around to keep him alive for my children. I know it took two years for my parents to even be able to look at his pictures. It’s a process and it’s a difficult one.

  • 2. Lisa  |  February 1, 2010 at 2:02 am

    “Keep Chris alive for Gavin, Nikki, Jim, your mum, his father, yourself but mostly keep his memory alive for him!”

    *applauds truth*

    Well said.

    I agree.

    Nobody can take your memories away from you.

  • 3. thatwoman  |  February 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Truth and Lisa – I am surrounded by Chris his photos his paintings ,his work , his gifts in every room of this house. He is with me in Nikki and Gavin actually there is a “sameness” not in looks but in sheer devilitry that Gavin shares…. but they are all triggers and they trigger…… His father and Chris shared the same hands, I look at my husbands hands and they are Chris .

    The “likenesses burned” were not of people I loved like Chris but those who caused me great pain and disgust….. I didn’t want to look upon their smiling countenance ever again…. so they are gone poof up in smoke……and the ashes scattered 😉 it was a cleansing bonfire ……..

    No one can take the memories and I have so many good ones ..Gavin will know his Uncle and we will have Christmas and Thanksgiving just not in this house….

    Out Thanksgiving ( because actually if you think about it was never “MY Thanksgiving” that is a uniquely American holiday so in order for me to cook for my Americans they had to decorate the house etc for Christmas… I got the house done and they got their dinner and football. ( American Traditional Thanksgiving dinner is very very close to what I had to cook for our traditional Christmas Dinner, about a month later. My husband is getting older , Chris has gone Niikki and Jim have their own house ….we aren’t a large family ….

    Chris always came with me to get the live tree as he insisted upon one …. hated artificial trees….always helped put it up never was around to take it down 🙂

    I can’t do that particular “tradition” … so we have changed our traditions. There is a Chris Miss Tree, but nature will decorate its branches….

    We used have our Christmas celebration Christmas eve dinner early so that my husband’s mother could come and so Chris’ ( she who will remain nameless ) could celebrate here with Chris , go to Church ( yeah well …..) and later Chris would go over to her family on Christmas Eve. Then since Nikki got married we would go over there to open our family presents Christmas morning and have a Christmas brunch..I changed our times on Christmas Eve for “she who will remain nameless” even when they were dating so she could spend time with Chris …..However since my mother in law passed in September, Chis passed and I no longer have to worry about “that other family” and their time table we are changing our celebrations.

    We did so this year , the presents changed , ( just purchased gifts for Gavin) the place changed because too Gavin was born and Nikki and Jim will start their own traditions and way of celebrating .. and Santa Claus etc……

    Although this year was very very strange and sad…there actually was a relief from the “Christmas Stress ” all the shopping , the cooking the whole lead up …..not having to do that actually was an eye opener to me….

    I am giving all the important Christmas tree decorations ( baby’s firsts etc) to Nikki for her tree… and we will adjust as Gavin grows to how we gather.

    but I won’t be putting up a tree…I won’t be cooking that Thanksgiving dinner…. but Gavin will know Chris he already does , Nikki makes sure of that too , she talks about Chris to Gavin everyday ……….. .I have such a plethora of material ….and as I write about Chris in the next few days and weeks…. they are all going to be saved for him…..he already has a great deal with the books and artwork……and he will have his Chris- miss- present 🙂 and will see the Chris – Miss – Tree

    And although that “Committee of Control” can’t take my memories of Chris away they have managed to surplant some memories of their own doing into this family that are not pleasant ….it is those triggers I will quarantine like the virus I consider them to be that have “taken” On that note ….

  • 4. Joe Skodny  |  February 3, 2010 at 1:52 am

    Amen to Truth and Lisa. I agree and applaud their comments. I am sure you are numb and not much can “reach” you right now. But know that others do care and are thinking loving, deeply caring thoughts for you. Stay active and turn this around into a “purpose” of some kind that I know you can DRVE… help others in some magnificent way.. That is what I have found helps people in your situation to cope and move on in some positive, constructive way. All of that energy NEEDS to be channeled into something bigger than you, to help you. xoxo Joe

  • 5. thatwoman  |  February 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks Joe being numb wouldn’t be too bad really…. let me just say that you and your volunteers have done a marvellous job over the holidays and maybe one day I will leave my parrallel world but right now I am going through the motions. Thanks for your support Loraine

  • 6. Dawn Becklake  |  February 3, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Loraine – very interesting – about the Brain. I have been having trouble with mine and I too have ‘moments’ (caused by my deteriorating body – which nobody seems to have th answers to) – so I was very interested to hear about your triggers. Of course this is me being totally selfish and thinking of me me me – but have had a bad year ‘with my brain’ hoping now to get over some of these ‘triggers’. Doing reasonable so far but do have bad days!
    I sincerely hope for your sake and the rest of the family you will be able to think solely of Chris and the good times – cut the others out. We as a family (as you & Mum know) had a dreadful time with Dad & his death and the circumstances. We did luckily get his ashes but only by getting in at the Crem first! and he is safely under the Chestnut Tree by the farmhouse. We also struggled with the death of Jill. Us 5 never sung again or had a group photo taken until we went to Cyprus for Michaels birthday last August – Michael really wanted us to do it and glad we did – don’t know if we will do it again but at least we got through that barrier so hope you too will eventually have some peace of mind. Thinking of you all as usual. XX

  • 7. thatwoman  |  February 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Dawn,
    The brain can do a lot of weird things I am beginning to find that out . You were lucky as actually you were still considered the next of kin re your Dad …as legally “Wyn of the sin” would have been enititled even if she had been married for 5 minuites… I have learned to my utter regret that “trust ” is not to be taken lightly ….and apples certainly don’t fall far from their family tree and there definitely is some more truth in Newtons other law 🙂
    for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and what you are seeing lately on this blog is the equal and opposite reaction to that bad apple falling from the “family tree”.
    There you are heading off to Cyprus and all I want to do is walk the downs and feel the sea air of England on my face….. ( even in the bloody rain 🙂

  • 8. The Sisterhood « That Woman’s Weblog  |  April 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    […] life has experienced something unique to mothers. As your being filled with life it set in motion a trigger – a fierce , unselfish need to protect and cherish. “Self “ is no longer part of […]

  • […] The other part of my life that probably wouldn’t have changed is my escape from grief, I still cannot pick up a book for reasons I will explain in another post. I can only watch certain television programs so that the triggers don’t happen as they are “debilitating” ( Chris trigger word) […]

  • 10. To BE or NOT to BE- Why and Wherefores « That Woman’s Weblog  |  September 23, 2011 at 12:07 am

    […] relieve those days , unbidden, over and over. The memories assault your senses as a trigger moment starts the whole thing over again- I can be driving, eating dinner, watering the garden yet be […]

  • […] ago. My brain seems to be working overtime – I have told how through “triggers” although I appear to those around me going to the refrigerator to get milk- that mere action they […]

  • […] what was happening to me. But the pain was “debilitating”and the trigger was pulled You would, as soon as you were old enough and earning money, buy me special candles – the […]

  • 13. Joe  |  September 7, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Hello Loraine, just came across ur well written post. I hope u r doing somewhat better than five years ago. And I still standby my comment from 2010. I hope u r channeling the grief into helping others. I believe it can be an amzing way to recover as best u can. Joe, xo

  • 14. thatwoman  |  September 7, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    day at a time – the mind still has its own ideas.. nice hearing from you . Settlers Watch, Admiral King Tribute Space, and Eric Barnes Heroes Walk but honestly I did them alll while being in another world for the most part… thank you for thinking of me and nothing has really changed for me since I wrote that post except I now know the pitfalls and avoid them…..

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January 2010

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