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Thinking back to those early days, I remember getting smacked by triggers while out in public. It was embarrassing to burst into tears in front of people and it happened more often than I care to remember.
Living in a small town with a population of 1500 people, going to the grocery store was always scary. The question was not, “Would I see someone I knew?” But rather, “Who was I going to see this time?”
My first encounter was about a week after Kathy died. I had made my purchase and was exiting the store when a familiar couple caught me at the door. All it took was for one of them to ask me how I was doing and the massive avalanche of tears began the uncontrollable tumble down my face. They did not know what to do and just scrambled along leaving me there with the tears flowing. I felt bad for them, me and the strangers that witnessed my meltdown. That was just the beginning of many awkward moments to come.
Looking back, there were many people who had openly offered me help. It was almost always in the form of “just call if there is anything I can do” that seemed sincere but very noncommittal. The offers seemed generic at the time and I had no idea what help I needed. And as for shopping, I was physically able to go, but emotionally I was dead and buried with my late wife. In this case, I needed emotional help in the form of grocery shopping.
Regardless the offers, I definitely did not have the mental energy to call anyone for help. All I could think was that we needed supplies and wondered how fast could I get in and out of the store before I had another embarrassing meltdown.
I am happy to say that I survived the grocery store. I may have filled a few mop buckets with tears during those early visits, but I survived. Each visit made the next easier and before long the grocery store was not so scary. I hope that as you navigate through those early days, you find ways to ease the pain of public triggers. Do not forget those offers to help you. They can become quite helpful in your healing.