Share this

Reading Time: 5 min

Recognizing Your Grief Triggers – If you are grieving a loss, you might be curious about what it means to recognize your grief triggers and want to know why some seem to appear out of nowhere. Grief triggers can be explained as abrupt reminders of the loss of a loved one that causes emotional responses in you.

Dealing with grief triggers might occur due to unanticipatedly running into circumstances that bring up memories of a deceased loved one. Recognizing your grief triggers is the half battle. You can more thoroughly explore your emotional experience as it relates to your loss if you are aware of your grief triggers.

Table of Contents

Grief triggers

Grief triggers are those unplanned reminders that, in a split second, might sweep you up in a sea of sadness or perhaps bring you to your knees. You lose focus on what you are doing and experience discomfort. According to the Cope Foundation, anything that brings up memories of your loss can be a grief trigger.

Anything that unexpectedly sends you spiraling back into your grief is a grief trigger. Usually accompanied by sudden, powerful feelings of distress, suffering, and grief.

Even if you know that these days will be really difficult for you, your reaction could not become fully apparent until you go through such a triggering experience.

Things might be your grief triggers

Vivien Roggero | Elite Transformation Coach | Photo 1631911635433 C66B969831E5?Ixlib=Rb 1.2
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Each person’s grief process is different. Even though no two people will experience loss in precisely the same way, many people share certain aspects of grieving.

A professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and director for the Center for Complicated Grief, M. Katherine Shear, says “What activates grief is the awareness of the loss. It’s something that brings to mind the loss.”

The fact that various events, locations, people, thoughts, and times will quite unexpectedly trigger a mourning episode is perhaps the characteristic shared by individuals who grieve.

Some of the common grief triggers are:

  • Milestones: Invitations to weddings or commencements frequently trigger emotional grief reactions. Even when you thought you had your grieving under control, these kinds of life milestones are among the most frequent moments when you’ll feel pain over your loss.
  • Special events: When a loved one has passed away, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days throughout the year can be extremely painful. These are ongoing reminders that will probably cause some degree of sadness for a while.
  • Favorite song: No matter how many years have passed since your loved one’s passing, a certain song they dedicated to you may still cause you to experience some sense of pain.
  • Sounds or smells: You can revert to grieving over your loss when you smell a certain aroma or hear youngsters playing. Some noises and smells can transport you back in time, such as your loved one’s trademark fragrance, a particular cigar brand, or distant youngsters laughing and playing.

Recognizing your grief triggers is the first step to manage them

Recognizing your grief triggers, what they activate within you, and how to cope in healthy ways are all necessary for identifying your grief triggers. When you don’t recognize your grief triggers, you could feel as though they come on suddenly, which might exacerbate whatever anxiety you may already be feeling linked to your sorrow.

Thus, here are 7 ways you can do to help you recognizing your grief triggers and managing them:

1. Learn about grief

Without having knowledge about grief, it’ll be harder for you to get through your grief. So, learning about it comes first.

Reading literature about grief will teach you how to recognize when unanticipated grief strikes, what grief is, and how it affects you. You’ll move through your grief more quickly if you read more about the many forms of grief, typical responses to them, and how the grieving process works. In other words, understanding about grief helps you recognizing your own grief triggers.

Soon you’ll be able to move on with your life in your new existence and recapture your joy and happiness.

2. Identify your grief triggers

Keeping A Mood Tracker Might Help You Recognizing Your Grief Triggers
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

You might experience a range of emotions while grieving, including numbness, tremendous grief, and a semblance of self. This will all depend on the specific grief you have experienced. To better understand your current and potential triggers for experiencing grief:

  • Check in with yourself periodically during the day, and start keeping a mood-tracking emotion journal.
  • Be sure to record your location, the emotion, anybody activation, the intensity of the emotion on a scale, who you were with, and what you were doing in your emotion journal if you experience a more intense emotional experience throughout the day.
  • Write down triggering individuals, circumstances, or events in your journal.
  • Be kind to yourself and understand that it could take some time to recognize your triggers for grieving.

3. Accept your emotions

Attempting to hide your emotions from yourself and others slows the grieving process. You’ll be able to comprehend when these emotions appear seemingly out of nowhere if you can accept your loss, your sentiments, and your emotions. All of it is a symptom of the grief response to loss. It will eventually come naturally to you to experience, accept, and let go of these waves of grief.

Like the ebb and flow of ocean waves, you prepare yourself for the next one when it comes as expected.

4. Process the grief triggers

A Grief Journal Will Help You Recognizing Your Grief Triggers
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It can seem contradictory to fully allow yourself to experience your emotional experience while grieving. Some people may feel the need to dull their feelings and disconnect from the reality of what happened since grieving can be unbearably painful. Be aware that this drive is completely normal and prevents you from feeling pain. However, doing so can make your pain last longer because your brain needs time to process traumatic events before consolidating and storing memories adequately. You may frequently feel triggered or exhibit signs of one or more mental health issues if the brain is unable to absorb and experience adequately.

The following are healthy ways to process grief-related triggers:

  • Keep a grief notebook consistently, and give yourself time alone to express your thoughts and feelings.
  • Join a support group for grieving people.

5. Anticipate them to minimize extreme responses

Learning about various methods, you could be reminded of your loss enables you to anticipate your grief triggers beyond calendar dates and other noteworthy occasions.

Consider the likelihood that you will pass through the fragrance department in the majority of the department stores at the mall on your approach to your destination. As you move through the store, a familiar aroma can hit you, conjuring up memories and feelings.

Find ways to go past certain areas of the store or mall that will bring up unpleasant memories. You can anticipate and reduce your grief triggers by proactively planning while you go about your everyday activities.

6. Reach out to your support system

Vivien Roggero | Elite Transformation Coach | Photo 1520857014576 2C4F4C972B57?Ixlib=Rb 1.2
Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

It’s crucial to stay in touch with close ones you can rely on throughout this difficult time. It can be a little simpler to fully digest your emotional experience if you feel supported during sensitive times in your life. This can help you feel connected and loved.

7. Get help from the professionals

By seeking online therapy or counseling, you can better prepare yourself to deal with your grief when it arises. Seek help from professionals who specialize in grief work.

You have many options for getting the assistance you require without having to visit a professional’s office. For those times when you feel helpless and unable to cope, you can now access an increasing number of services online.

Also Read: Signs of Anger Issues

So, do you have to avoid your grief triggers?

Each deals with grief in his way. You’ll need to experiment to determine what works best for you in terms of whether you decide to face your triggers or completely avoid them. In the beginning, avoiding grief triggers isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Some individuals might require this as a coping strategy to help them get through the initial stages of grief until they feel more resilient and equipped to manage their emotions.

Think about choosing a future occasion, like an anniversary or another memorable day, to be at peace with your loss. Start mentally preparing yourself for this day, and think about asking your family members for help to get you through.

An essential part of your emotional process is recognizing what triggers your grief feels more intense. Having an understanding of your triggers can help you deal with this trying time by using healthy coping skills.

Understand Your Grief Triggers Starting Today With A FREE Discovery Call

Share this
Picture of Vivien Roggero - Elite Transformation and Executive Coach
Vivien Roggero - Elite Transformation and Executive Coach
Vivien Roggero, an Elite Transformation and Executive Coach, specializes in high-performance coaching and personal transformation, guiding professionals to peak success and fulfillment. With decades of experience, Vivien empowers high achievers, executives, and entrepreneurs through mindset shifts and strategic development.
Recent Article
Most Popular
Related Posts


This workbook is designed to help you understand your life and yourself better, so you can make decisions that will move you forward to a life of Freedom and Joy.

2024 Awareness Wordbook by Vivien Roggero [Self-discovery tools]