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Triggers in public




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.

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Thank-you for your post. Thinking back when my better-half passed away, my 1st couple of months were really bad like this.

I'd be good at work, (somehow I kept it together in the office) but as soon as I got away from work, or out shopping the tears just started flowing...

(it's been a little over a year for me since she passed). You are spot on. Thankfully I am better now but not a day goes by and I don't think of her.



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Excellent post Lewis.  Oh yes I too remember those early days.  Tears flowed in the grocery store, in the bank, at the butchers etc.  Sometimes I felt like it was never going to end but thankfully it did and I survived. I don't know what I would have done without this board and it's predecessor YWBB.

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Drafter, I remember so many times while driving, having to pull over because I could not see through the tears. I was glad to be alone at those moments so I could just let it out. I still have thoughts of her that run through my mind daily. I am doubtful that will ever go away...


BrokenHeart2, the YWBB was definitely a lifesaver. Getting connected to widdabagos and meeting my widda friends was the medicine that I needed. I miss them even now ❤️

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Driving in the car seems to be the worse time for me...A certain song or a certain memory will always set me off...Now I try to smile because I think it's my loved one sending me a message...

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Ditto SadSue! I often equate my life to a soundtrack of music I listened to through the years. I can't stand silence so I listen to music especially in the car and some songs trigger me and I'm reduced to tears. Some other songs I feel are signs from my LH knowing this is the easiest way to reach me and tell me I'm doing a good job. Usually they are one of small group of songs that are rarely played on the radio anymore but was significant to us. 

Edited by Julester3
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The grocery store was a land mine for me in the early days. I’d reach for something I bought for him, and yes the tears would start flowing. Somewhere around the 6mo point, I realized that I didn’t have a meltdown, and it had actually been several trips since one had occurred. It was a chest pounding moment, and I realized I just might be ok. 

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Yes, when I'm driving is when it all comes out.  Sometimes I would cry all the way to work (an hour) and all the way home, the sun rise, the sun set, the mountains, the songs on the radio, the fact that I was driving and not sitting next to my husband listening to his stories about where we were or where we were going.  When we would go on a long road trip we'd even pray together; today I had a three hour drive and decided to recite that prayer (I think for the first time) and cried through the entire thing.  He's been gone for a year...I still miss him every day, sometimes with an ache in my chest or a knot in my throat and sometimes not.

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Public Triggers are the worst... I remember I was in the grocery store with my mom and one of Drew's and I's songs started playing overhead. I ran behind a case of chips and cried uncontrollably praying to God no one would see the blubbering mess behind the chips. I just wanted the song to stop playing and then to die and disappear. My mom said that this was a sign he was giving to me. My grief is way too strong and fresh to see any signs of him at this point. 

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Amberina, yes Public Triggers are awful. My LH used to help me shop for fabric (I am a quilter) because he had such a great sense of color and patterns. I went to the fabric store and just broke down crying. Thankfully they know me there and I just got comforted. Hugs to you and take care of yourself, it's not easy.

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I had the exact same issues with getting groceries. It was unbearable at the beginning. After about 6 months, it started to be manageable.

My advice is to ask people for help, even when it feels uncomfortable or exaggerated. I live in a different country than the rest of my family, so I didn't really have anyone to ask help from. Also, I was very bad at asking for help. I learned to get over it and just ask.


But for me, the most awful moments outside were when I would see someone that reminded me of my husband, visually, and I would get so angry, homicidal mad really, from rage that my husband died and not this "loser" I was looking at on the street. My husband was such a unicorn, such an impossible man to exist to begin with, I was just enraged he died so young and brilliant while those regular men continued to live their mediocre lives. I know that's incredibly mean, but that's what I felt.

I still have rage in me, and a lot of it is because of the way my husband died. I don't compare people to him anymore, because it won't lead to anything good. I am very thankful I have our little boy, who carries in him the greatness his father had. I am very lucky for that.

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Guest Matthew


Hearing this from someone else and it being a woman and me being a man jus know you helped me today hug your boy every chance u get 


and I how I deal I jus ask myself to be the person she would want me to be

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I lost my Daniel on 2/18 and today was my first day back at work. I thought being around close friends and busying my mind was the right thing, but I ended up coming home after being there half a day. 

Daniel is everywhere I look, especially where I work because whenever I would get frustrated with things at work (pretty common), I would text him and he’d say “you can do it honey 😘.” 

I don’t know how I’m going to live through this. 

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I am so sorry you have joined our club. Losing your love is one of the hardest things a person has to endure. The pain is immense and overwhelming and it feels like it will swallow us up. This is so fresh for you. I will be honest - it isn’t going to get easier for some time. Sometimes we talk about surviving this one day at a time. Sometimes, we just get through one hour at a time. Sometimes - just one minute at a time. 

Some of us found that going back to work is a good thing. When I lost my first husband, I took 6 weeks off. I was in school when I lost my second husband, and I went back when the semester started 11 days later. There was something about needing to put one foot in front of the other that helped me get through each day. 

I hope you can find other widowed folks in your timeline and in your age range, even if they are virtual friends. I joined this club over 10 years ago and some of my best friends now are widowed folks I have met along the way. 

Be gentle with yourself. 




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Wow, I’m not alone!

I lost my husband in early Feb. 2020.

i made a trip to Trader Jies thinking I was fine, but everything I used to buy for him set me off! I was shaking so hard by the time I managed to check out.

Getting out of the house to work helps, I’m a teacher... and focusing on the students needs helped me so much. Schools are closed now due to COVID-19

i hope I can hold it together with this social distancing and pray I don’t loose anyone else like my elderly parents who have been so supportive during this time!



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