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Grief Triggers, You Just Never Know…

Last month, when I heard Elizabeth Taylor had died, it triggered some unexpected feelings. I guess it’s true what they say about grief triggers, you just never know. You never quite know when grief might sneak up on you. You just never know…

I love movies. There’s even a movie category on my blog. Maybe there’s a new career waiting for me some day as a movie critic?? Maybe not…

My mother loved movies. She continued going to movies for as long as possible even when she was really sick. Many “older” people don’t go to a lot of movies, especially the more “questionable” ones. There wasn’t any kind of movie my mother wouldn’t consider going to or watching on TV. Going to movies was another way she kept current. Going to movies and then discussing them helped keep her young.

So, when I heard Elizabeth Taylor had died, it felt like I was losing yet another little piece of my mother. Elizabeth Taylor and my mom were connected, in my mind anyway.

Hearing this news made me sad. But, then I realized perhaps I’m at, or getting closer to, the acceptance stage of grief because I was only sad for a few moments. Of course, I still felt saddened by the news of this loss of another Hollywood icon, but on a personal level, I was able to move on to fond reflective memories as well.

I loved remembering how much my mother loved movies and Elizabeth Taylor. It was comforting thinking about all those years I got to stay up late with her to watch the Academy Awards show on TV. I enjoyed reflecting on our conversations about whatever movie either one of us had just seen and remembering conversations about our top 10 lists of all-time favorite movies.

I enjoyed the remembering.

When you start remembering your loved one’s life, not their death, this is progress. When you start remember mostly the pleasant memories, this is progress.

After Elizabeth’s death, I heard someone being interviewed on TV say there would never be another movie star quite like Elizabeth Taylor. They were probably right. Elizabeth was not only a beautiful and talented actress; she was, or at least seemed to be, a good person. She changed the room when she walked into it the person being interviewed also stated and not just because of her stunning good looks. There seemed to be something different about her, something more, something bigger than life.

Elizabeth also knew quite a bit about survival skills.

Though she led a privileged life to be sure, it was not free from challenges. She survived the death of her beloved husband, too many marriages to keep track of, pneumonia, addiction, weight struggles, a bad back and osteoporosis to name a few. And these are just a few the public knew about.

Like all of us, I’m sure she had a few private struggles as well.

Movie stars don’t seem quite so iconic today, probably because social media lets us pry into all aspects of their lives. I think in some ways they seem more ordinary, more flawed — more like us. Perhaps we don’t hold them in such high regard anymore. This is probably a good thing, but there’s something a little sad about this as well.

Regardless, whenever I go to a movie, I still wonder to myself what my mother would think of it. It’s a little connection we still share. 

We always will.

That’s progress.

Note:  I don’t remember a lot of Elizabeth Taylor’s movies. Two gems I have seen are Giant and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  In the eyes of this particular “movie critic,” Liz delivered stellar performances in the two roles she played in these.

You might want to read:  Losing My Mother – I Was Supposed to Be Ready.

Do you have a favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie?

Who is your favorite movie actor or actress and do you think genuine “movies stars” still exit?

How do you handle grief triggers?


#Grief triggers, you just never know #loss #death

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Wednesday 13th of April 2011

Nancy, I keep having grief triggers since James died. Seems like most anything can cause it: a song, food, remembering a comment he made about trees, or a trip we took together. Daily I talk to him, out loud, imagine him coming through the front door after work, singing to me while I shower and he shaves. The triggers are bittersweet for I want to remember those things. Sometimes I'm strong and other times, I cry in public places as strangers walk by not knowing what to do about me.

About Elizabeth Taylor, I wrote a blog about her as well. I LOVED her, was MESMERIZED by her. You might see if you can find "A Place in the Sun." Everything about her was perfect then.

XOXOXO, Brenda


Friday 15th of April 2011

Brenda, I imagine you are constantly bombarded with triggers. Your loss is still so fresh, so I'm sure memories are bittersweet indeed. I will have to check out that particular movie sometime. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Beth L. Gainer

Sunday 10th of April 2011

Hi Nancy,

I lost my friend about 5 years ago. Thanks for asking. I took her to almost all her chemo treatments for about three years and visited her often. We met at a support group, and she and I had so much in common, we hit it right off.

When she died, I was relieved in a way because she suffered so very much when she was alive.

But the whole thing was so hard for her and me. Luckily, the last words we said to each other were "I love you." So there were no regrets.


Sunday 10th of April 2011

Beth, Thanks for sharing more details about the loss of your friend. The experience must have been excruciatingly painful for both of you, but at the same time something quite beautiful. It sounds similar to my experience with my mom at the end. I'm glad you have no regrets. That helps.

Jan Hasak

Sunday 10th of April 2011

Nancy, thanks for sharing your memories with us. My mother was 11 years older than Elizabeth Taylor, but still adored her. I, too, think of my mom when I watch one of Ms. Taylor's films. My all-time favorite movie of hers is "National Velvet."

My favorite actress is Meryl Streep, whom I believe to be extremely versatile in her acting abilities. I truly believe movie stars still exist; those are the ones you remember long after the movie plot is forgotten.

An unexpected grief trigger for me was watching a "Gone with the Wind" DVD after my mother died. That was her all-time favorite movie, and my tears flowed as I realized she wouldn't be seeing it anymore, nor would I see it with her.

Best wishes, Jan


Sunday 10th of April 2011

Jan, Thank you for commenting. I have never seen "National Velvet," but I'd like to sometime. I think you made a good choice there in your favorite actress selection, Meryl Streep is remarkably talented and has a wide range. "Gone With the Wind" was my mother's favorite movie too. I try to watch it once a year.

Beth L. Gainer

Saturday 9th of April 2011


Thanks for such an inspiring post. Elizabeth was indeed a true Hollywood icon, but she was a real human being, as well. Too many people get starry eyed when looking at Hollywood stars....but these famous individuals have their inner demons like the rest of us.

It's wonderful that you have so many sweet memories of you and your mom sharing life together. These are treasures that will always be there.

In terms of my grief, I also have my share. My really close friend died of breast cancer, leaving me reeling and grieving and suffering from survivor's guilt. During my bad days (I do have great days), I grieve the loss of fertility and the loss of my body to the surgical scars that will never go away. But then again, I have so much to be grateful for.


Sunday 10th of April 2011

Beth, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You're right, everyone has those inner demons, even those we sometimes perceive as having it all. I'm sorry about your friend, how long ago was that loss? Feeling the losses and feeling the gratitude, it is a balancing act of sorts, isn't it?


Saturday 9th of April 2011

Nancy, Great post. I think you have written about a key area in healing (grief, physical or emotional.) Triggers. Your love for your mom is so evident in your writting. Thank you for sharing this love with all of us.

Ps. Thanks for your comment on my blog piece about fear. I don't mean to be personal, but I can't recall if you mentioned what kind of surgery you are having?


Saturday 9th of April 2011

Kim, Thanks so much for taking time to comment. You're right, triggers exist for many other things as well, good things too.

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