Those Traumatic Triggers

We’ve all experienced them. An innocent remark by someone, a song on the radio or at church, seeing a photo, noticing something he loved…. We never know when they will be there, but when they are, the grief flows over us like a tsunami wave – unexpected and overwhelming. I recently experienced one of those, and if you’ll permit me to write from a personal perspective today, I’d like to share it with you. Why? Because I’m not alone in this, and neither are you!

Last weekend was a highlight moment for our family – I say “our” because all of us but Dave are still here! The oldest of our two granddaughters (roses among seven male thorns!) was married in a beautiful ceremony in Ft. Meyers, Florida. The bride was stunning, the groom was handsome, and all the many attendants were decked out in gorgeous formal wear. The mother-of-the-bride (my daughter) outdid herself with planning and entertaining the many guests who had come literally from all over the world to celebrate this couple setting out on a new life journey.

This beautiful wedding was a huge turning point for our family, because Taylor is the first of the nine grandchildren to be married. Now, to give you some context, let me share that Grandpa Dave was a pastor for nearly 50 years, had married our three children, and full intended to be here to marry the grandchildren as they found their soulmates. Only…he wasn’t there….

Taylor asked me to be part of the ceremony by reading I Corinthians 13:1-13, more commonly known as the love chapter of the Bible. I thought I would be fine with that, so joyfully agreed. My biggest concern was that of falling up or down the stairs to the platform in front of the whole crowd!! The wedding was progressing perfectly as planned, and it was my turn to read the scriptures. Then I got nearly to the last verse…”…then we shall see face to face.”  That was when the tsunami hit my heart. He is gone – temporarily – but one day we will see each other again face to face. I took a deep breath, and finished that beautiful passage.

It was a lovely weekend, and the weather was perfect, but there was a huge gap for the whole family. A dear friend did the ceremony, and began by explaining that he was “called off the bench” to fill in for Grandpa, who had always planned to be here. He used the wedding sermon that Dave used for all three of our kids, and by the time he was finished we were all in tears over such beauty and such pain all combined together.

I didn’t realize that it would be so difficult to not have him there. He’s been gone five years, and most of the time I feel like I’ve transitioned quite well to living life as a widow. I find myself at a loss for words, though, when it comes to trying to describe what I felt without him all weekend. It was a weekend full of thoughts and activities and celebrations all about marriage and permeated with couples everywhere I looked. Once again, there it was. I am no longer a couple. It’s as socially awkward as being a teenager again and finding yourself without a date for the big dance!

But, as we all know, life moves on and the emotions pass, and once again I find the balance in working, walking the dog, cleaning house, and all the rest of the cares of life. It’s simply one of those things we widows have to deal with from time to time. Triggers! Unidentified and unplanned-for until they happen.

All of that to say, you may experience these moments at the most unexpected times. But they are totally normal, and you can be sure they will come from time to time! Allow yourself to grieve, it’s all part of the process. Those moments of feeling his loss so deeply are indicators that you also loved deeply – and they will pass. Part of the healing has to do with keeping our focus on all that we still have and the joy that is still ahead of us. The years we had together were a gift from God, and one day not too far away, there will be a joyful reunion!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome here or you can email me at If you’re looking for a new purpose and a pathway to move ahead, please consider joining one of our Refocusing Widows groups, either in person or online. We look forward to meeting you!


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