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An unexpected grief trigger

Just celebrated another birthday, but this post isn’t about that. Then again, it is. You see, today, I’m sharing a little story about an unexpected, birthday-related grief trigger. I would love it if you shared a grief-trigger story of yours at the end of this post.

Sometimes, grief triggers are expected. You are prepared, or at least you think you are. Certain dates on the calendar, events, holidays or memories, you learn to prepare yourself for.

As years go by, you figure out how to live with grief. You steel yourself for those expected triggers. You learn how to live without your person/people.

And yet, now and then, an unexpected grief trigger still throws you off guard.

Recently, while sorting, sifting and determining stuff worthy of keeping or not worthy of keeping, I came across an old birthday card my dad had sent me. It was tucked away inside a book I just happened to pick off the shelf and peek inside of.

Finding and reading that birthday card made me gasp. I had an actual physical reaction.

Has this ever happened to you?

My dad was a man of few words. Words he did speak were always words worth listening to. He didn’t write many letters or send a lot of cards either. But after my mother died, he never missed sending me a birthday card which always included a short note. Not surprisingly, his cards were always of the humorous type. Expressing emotions through humor was easier for him.

This card was no different.

Here’s the front:

An unexpected #grief trigger. It made me sad but also brought me joy. #Grief does that. #loss #coping #memories #birthdays

Here’s the message inside:

An unexpected #grief trigger. It made me sad but also brought me joy. #Grief does that. #loss #coping #memories

There was also a brief note, written in his notoriously poor handwriting. He wrote about the weather. Yes, of course, he did. Meteorology and tracking weather conditions around the globe was one of his passions. I kid you not, if you had named any US city, he likely could’ve rattled off the average high and low temps as well as average percip amounts — for any season.

Finding that birthday card, seeing his unruly penmanship and reading his greeting and one-word signoff made me sad and teary eyed. But it also brought me joy and definitely made me smile. I felt special in the way only your dad can make you feel special. While reading that card, somehow, I felt his presence; I felt his love.

It was a birthday present like none other.

Why I didn’t save more cards over the years, I do not know. I mean, I’ve hung onto a ton of stuff I totally did not and will not need or likely even ever want.

One thing’s, for sure; I won’t be tossing out this treasure any time soon.

Thank you for reading my grief-trigger story.

Now, I’d love to hear one of yours.

You might want to read:

Grief Triggers, You Just Never Know

Not Just Another Birthday

Do you have a grief-trigger story (any sort) to share and/or how do you handle grief triggers?

Have you saved any or all cards you’ve received from certain people through the years?

Do you have a meaningful memento or keepsake from (or that reminds you of) a loved one who’s died that you’d never part with?

Finding an old birthday card from my #dad, seeing his unruly penmanship and reading his greeting and one-word sign off made me sad and teary-eyed, but it also brought me joy. #greif #loss

Have you visited the Nancy’s Point Free Resource Library yet?

Loretta Rederscheid

Wednesday 16th of February 2022

What a lovely story Nancy. Sometimes grief triggers wrap us in a warm blanket so to speak. It sounds like this birthday card did just that for you. How wonderful that you felt your father’s presence. That card is a treasure!

I was totally unprepared for a grief trigger that occurred on my son’s Christening day. Out of nowhere, I had the thought, my mother will never know Michael Casey. A wave of grief struck me. I was really shook and fought back tears for a few minutes but then I felt a sudden peace. I think it was my mom letting me know she was there and she would watch Michael grow up. It’s hard to put into words. Sometimes grief pops up out of nowhere! But, it’s typically followed by some good memories.

Thanks for sharing. Happy belated birthday!


Friday 18th of February 2022

Loretta, I love the way you put it - sometimes grief triggers wrap us in a warm blanket. That was true in this case. Thank you for reading my little grief trigger story and for sharing one of yours that happened on your son's Christening day. I'm glad that experience made you feel your mother's presence and brought you peace. And thanks for the birthday wishes!


Wednesday 2nd of February 2022

It's usually the little things like your example that surprise me about grief because I can't prepare for them. They just show up out of nowhere. I remember after my dog Ace died, I randomly broke down and sobbed when my younger dog chewed a small hole in Ace's dog bed. (We still use that dog bed! I just buy a new cover for it once a year.)


Thursday 3rd of February 2022

Lindsay, Yes, when we aren't prepared, that's when we sometimes lose it. But that's okay. And if this happens out in public, that's okay too. Understandable that seeing that hole chewed in Ace's bed was a trigger for you. Such a good boy Ace was. Thank you for sharing a grief trigger.

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