The months of June and July are so full of triggers for me.
Triggers are those things that unexpectedly pop up with such intensity that I physically feel like something punched me in the heart or gut…and I am instantly, intensely sad. All of a sudden the ground disappears, and I crash again. Triggers can also be something that makes me feels like l am slowly having my heart wrung like a rag over an extended time as a specific date or event approaches.
There are times of the year that are worse for triggers than others…special times when the absence of Jason is so obvious it just hurts. I know they are coming up; I have learned to recognize the symptoms and anticipate the renewed grief at losing/missing Jason. I know that they will affect me in some way, but it always surprises me at the intensity. The months of November and December are like mine field! The approach of March 3rd is especially difficult. Jason’s birthday is the hardest of all.
There are other times when I encounter a place or an object when I feel like something has hit me in the heart for some reason or another, not one I necessarily would have seen coming…and I am once again instantly, intensely sad. Scrapbooking stores. Chocolate chip cookies. A type of clothing Jason used to wear. A favorite movie or song. Seeing a Cavalier (Jason’s car) or an Eclipse (the one that hit him). A wedding invitation. Halloween costumes.
Triggers are everywhere.
Eric’s birthday, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Jenna’s birthday, Jason’s birthday. All happen in June and July. It was one celebration after another.
It hit me last week unexpectedly as I looked for a birthday card for Eric…and ran across one that would have been perfect for Jason. It made me smile…and then all of a sudden I was sad. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and it was all I could do to keep from tearing up right there in the store. Jenna was standing beside me looking at cards, too. She must have sensed the change in me, because she stopped and said, “Are you okay?” I thought, “Okay. I know what this is.”
I’d like to think I’ve learned to recognize and handle triggers, whether instant or extended, better than I first did. The first thing I try to do is recognize and acknowledge what it is…a trigger – something that reminds me of Jason, of spending time together, makes me long for Jason’s presence. The next thing is to remind myself that it’s okay to let myself feel this way. I wouldn’t miss Jason so much if I hadn’t loved him so much…it’s a reflection of my love for Jason and my longing to still have him here. Once I have allowed myself to acknowledge the connection to Jason of that particular time or item and how much I miss him, I try to think of a good memory having to do with that particular time, item or context. If it’s an event, such as a wedding or birth of a child, I try to remind myself that Jason would have been very happy for another’s happiness or success. He highly valued his friends and would have wanted the best for them. Sometimes I need to remind myself to not be bitter or angry, and that it’s my own responsibility to keep my own heart right. And then I just take a deep breath, try to ride the wave of emotion and land on my feet. To be honest, sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t…but I keep on trying. It’s not as awful as it was in the beginning, but it may still take me time to recover and some things still knock me flat for a while.
The 4th of July is on Monday of this extended weekend. Jason loved the 4th. It was a time to invite friends over to shoot of fireworks, have a barbeque, hang out, have fun. For Jason, anytime was a great time to get together with friends…but the 4th of July was special! I really miss those times.
I think triggers will forever be a fact of life for me…because I will always miss Jason and will always wish he were here.