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Grief Triggers - Does seeing a partcular something or someone make things even worse?

(14 Posts)
monkeytree Fri 29-Apr-16 22:39:49

Sorry to all the ladies who have had a loss x I'm part of that club too, having lost my ds last February at 20 weeks. It never gets any easier writing that phrase, I lost my ds, it's there in black and white when all I want to do is forget but never can. Had he come along, he would have been so loved but because he didn't there has been so much devastation caused which still rumbles on.

I have 2 dd's for which I am eternally grateful. I have infertility issues so the journey to motherhood has not been straight forward and quite honestly I think I am traumatised firstly by the infertility and then by the loss, I can't get my head around it all there seems too much to process.

Ds died over a year ago (there I've said it again and again its equally as painful) and today started out as a fairly good day. I hid with dd2 and kids tv for part of the morning, hid in the car as I drove along country lanes to get dd to sleep and then dh arrived home to take me out to lunch (to celebrate 10th wedding anniversary). The pub was practically empty (and therefore to me blissful). It's so sad when I think that a good day involves hiding away from the world and nearly everyone in it isn't it? I have a few good friends but this week I've felt like hiding from them too. I don't always want to bore them with how I'm feeling when all they want to do is talk about the trivialities of life and the latest (usually minor) drama in their lives. So quite often instead of saying a feel like sh*t and actually I've just had a good cry, I answer the how are you with a fairly convincing (and inane smile) "I'm O.K". Well today I thought it was one of those low key not having to face toddler groups with dd2 and those many, many pregnant women who are everywhere.......and yes this is a double edged sword because I know how fortunate I am to be able to take a dc to toddler group believe me......and major trigger appeared directly opposite my house....just as I was thinking I hadn't seen her for a while. She was due a week after me and yes went on to have her baby and there she and it is as a regular reminder of what should have been. She stopped and lifted her child out of it's pram directly opposite my house and then stooped down to attend to her other pre-school child.....and my peace of mind was shattered. I was going out of the door to take a walk and take some photographs relating to a blog I am going to write - a lovely end to an O.K day and there she was.....and tears ensued with my dh standing behind me, looking on, not knowing what to say really...and then saying well at least we've got X etc. that's how he deals with it. I'm grateful to have my dd's I really am but it doesn't seem to take the pain away. I then became frustrated and rant about not being able to move forward (I had been looking at some part-time courses to pursue earlier in the day so viewed this as part of the healing process and trying to move forward) and then she appeared and I felt frustrated, jealous, bitter even hatred toward this women who had complained to me that she didn't really want to have this child of hers, yet here she was and there was her child...and yes its so unfair. I realised that it was her as much as the child that was bringing up a lot of bad feelings about myself - I realised I feel a failure and such powerlessness particularly as having another child is highly, highly unlikely now given my age etc even though I have continued to try (and that has been totally demoralising as well, the whole ttc saga and nothing (probably as to be expected). I wanted (I want) another child but I'm not entirely sure it is all for the right reasons....I want to feel in control again, I don't want to be that woman who lost a baby, I want to be a mum to 3 dc's and not 2 like it should have been......starting to sound a bit whiny now, particularly when so many women struggle to become a mother.......but you get my drift. Unless I move home, this situation will not be easily rectified either. I feel stuck because there are so many reasons to stay the main one being that my eldest dd doesn't want to move and has friends who are within walking distance (and I suppose so do I) but I honestly think that would be the best thing for me....but....I can't do it to DD. More complicated than that, thinking of sending dd2 to another school outside of the village but this comes with a massive package of guilt - that she wont have friends in the village etc like dd1 has been fortunate to have.......I feel stuck, trapped even, I'm not comfortable here but don't have a definitive place to move to either...I lost some family members along with ds (another story) I suppose my world folded at the very moment I was told there was no heart beat.....things will never be the same and just trying to make the best of it but stuck. Sorry this is so long winded I don't suppose I'm really expecting a reply to all of this........just wondering if anyone else gets this trigger sensation that knocks them sideways when they see a certain someone or something?..........

KittyandTeal Sat 30-Apr-16 15:37:25

I hate this.

I've found those things I thought would be triggers like putting up the Christmas tree etc I've been ok with. Random stuff (Christmas shopping and suddenly realising that I should've been agonising over dd2s first Christmas present) hits me like a tonne of bricks.

You don't sound whiny. I understand. I sat in dd1s bed last night watching her sleep and crying because there should be 2 more with her.

My only advice, and I'm not in the best place o give it atm, is not to try and make the best of I but let it be what it is. It's bloody painful to have a constant reminder of what should have been. It's ok for it to be painful.

It sounds odd but I'm desperate for one of those triggers atm. My brain has shut down and isn't letting me cry or grieve properly or fully right now.

I guess I just want to say your not alone. I know exactly how you feel.

pippistrelle Sat 30-Apr-16 15:40:51

Yes, monkeytree, I do. Even though the miscarriages I had were earlier than yours and a number of years ago now. At that time I didn't feel that traumatised, but still every now and then I see or hear something that makes me think about how different life could have been. It's almost like there's a different me in a parallel universe living the life that I should have been.

There's no right or wrong way to feel about this, but as you're still feeling so raw, I wonder if you'd consider seeing your GP to see if there's any counselling that might help you move on a bit psychologically.

I'm not sure I fully understand the bit about moving home, but what I would say is that even if you do physically move to avoid seeing one trigger, then you might well find that it's just replaced with another. I think you have to deal with the grief and the sense of loss rather than trying to avoid it. I'm not sure I did entirely, and that's why it still sneaks up and slaps me round the chops from time to time. But then, maybe it's just one of thing that time does heal (a bit, anyway) but it leaves behind a sort of emotional scar where the skin just isn't as robust as it used to be.

Good luck, OP.

pippistrelle Sat 30-Apr-16 15:44:19

I think your advice is wise, Kitty. Of course it's painful. Finding it painful adds to our humanity.

BipBippadotta Sun 01-May-16 10:17:34

Yes, it's awful. Had my first proper panic attack in a while last night when I unexpectedly encountered a neighbour whose son was born 3 weeks after my daughter. He's scampering all over the place now. It was such a shock I had to leave & started hyperventilating, and then later went into the bitter rage you describe - mainly directed against this woman. She's got 3 children and she's always complaining about how busy & stressed she is. Obvs it's not her fault that my dd died & I'm now barren but I do wish she & her family would just fuck off out of my face. Yes, bliss is hiding away & not feeling ravaged by trauma & bruised by other people's happiness all the time.

Though Kitty I also know the state you describe so well - where you're totally blank and dissociated like you're made of rubber.

It helps somewhat to know others are going through this and I'm not totally mad. Hang in there, all.

KittyandTeal Sun 01-May-16 13:15:12

God I hate people who bitch about how hard their lives are now!

It's utterly unreasonable of me, I know hardship and struggling is different for everyone and that we all moan about our kids but sometimes I want to scream 'I'd fucking love the life you bitch so freely about'

Like I say, I know it's utterly unreasonable and obviously in life I make sympathetic noises. Although I didn't manage it when sil was whinging to me about being so heavily pregnant and over due, it's been 7 weeks since I lost ds, I'm not the one to moan too about being pregnant and uncomfortable!

monkeytree Sun 01-May-16 22:05:23

Hi Pip. The moving notion was to try and remove myself from a major trigger. I understand what you mean by replacing one trigger by another, however I will probably have to do the school run with this woman (with dd) and having a whole raft of awful feelings surge everyday doesn't seem too appealing but there are lots of pluses to living here, it's utter sh*t that I don't feel settled anymore. I guess her dd and my ds were going to be in the same class at school and I find it hard to cope with the fact that she gets to watch her dd grow when I'm left watching on with all the 'what could have beens'. So utterly sad and soul destroying,

Bip, I'm really sorry you walked into this situation yesterday evening. It makes it all the more real doesn't it seeing a child of a similar age. I am so sorry you lost your daughter, it is completely unfair. Rationally, I know this woman's child is not my child but I couldn't help but take note of how big my ds would be right now when she pulled her child out of the pushchair. I'm so sorry, I understand the sense of panic, I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights and the thought of even having to acknowledge that child of hers makes me feel sick.

Kitty. I can't believe your sister in law is moaning to you, please protect yourself, this is extreme insensitivity and you shouldn't have to be put in this situation.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my post, comforting but really sad that I am not alone x

BipBippadotta Mon 02-May-16 10:16:46

Wow, Kitty, that moaning from your SIL is the sort of behaviour I find I'm just not able to forgive. My reasoning has been that if someone couldn't stop making everything about themselves and be just a bit considerate to me in the first weeks following the death of my only child, they would never be able to do it. It should not be hard for anyone with a smidgen of emotional intelligence to understand that a bit of tact and caring are required when someone close to you has lost a baby. If they can't understand that, there is likely to be a lot about friendship and empathy that they can't understand.

Thinking of your desire to move, Monkey - we live in a neighbourhood in which almost everyone has children, and you can't move for prams and pushchairs. I live with a constant queasy feeling that that I'll run into someone from my NCT class. Every time I do see them they take sneaky peeks at my belly to see whether I'm pregnant again, which feels utterly humiliating. Ultimately I feel scared to leave the house. While I feel I'm doing better in other parts of my life, the fear about my neighbourhood only seems to be getting worse. The local mums have turned into sinister zombie versions of the friends they were becoming when we were all pregnant together. Everything that once felt comfortable has become persecutory.

We are actually planning to move. It's the only thing that gives me a feeling of hope for the future. I know it's really hard to uproot your children when they're settled at school, but do you think it might be possible sometime a bit further down the line? My sense (after 18 months' therapy with a trauma specialist) is that it does really aid 'recovery' (!) from this sort of trauma and loss to make some supportive changes to your environment. There is an unhelpful belief around that a traumatised person should be made to stay in an environment they find alienating & frightening for their own good, until they're strong enough to deal with it, so that they don't 'avoid' things. This may work for the person with a phobia of birds, or lifts or enclosed spaces, but it's a very different and more complex situation when there is a major bereavement involved, and a social environment that feels very shaming - where everybody knows what happened to you and they either cross the street to avoid you or make insensitive comments ('do you think you're ready to have another baby yet?'). Or worse, there are people who don't know / don't remember what happened and every time you leave the house you run the risk of the old man down the road asking 'where's your baby?' (this still happens to me, 18 months on, with a neighbour who has dementia). Sure, I could try to change this situation my confronting everyone who behaves like a shit to me, patiently reminding the man with dementia that my daughter died every other day, when he asks - but you don't really have the energy for that when you're grieving and still desperately trying to have a baby and having a new miscarriage every few months. Also, in trying to get through the day when you're essentially running an obstacle course of people and situations that bring it all back in horrible detail, you don't get 'stronger' and more able to deal with it, you get more and more numb and dissociated to protect yourself.

In my case the fear and grief is limited to a very specific environment. It's not a fear of all toddlers, it's a fear of particular toddlers. It's not a fear of all mothers, it's a fear of the mothers I spent a lot of time with during pregnancy and who are now desperately squeamish or weird when I see them. I know I will be able to grieve much better and move forward more productively with my life if I manage to get a bit of space away from these very particular people. As it is it's like I'm trying to process my loss while being constantly poked in the eyes.

So that's just to say I totally understand the desire to move, and I don't think it's at all unhealthy or unreasonable in the circumstances. And I hope you find a way to make the daily grind a bit more bearable.

I'm sorry to hear you lost family members along with your ds - I had a similar thing happen. We've effectively lost touch with all but one member of our families. It's been pretty horrible. Unfortunately an unexpected tragedy can bring out all the cracks and chasms in your close relationships. I've also found some of my friends to be unexpectedly lovely, though - and I hope that you've had some of that experience too. xx

BipBippadotta Mon 02-May-16 10:18:33

(mammoth post, soz!)

monkeytree Mon 02-May-16 18:24:19

Bip. Thank you so much. I almost cried with relief (as well as sadness) when I read your post. You get it, you totally get it and you are the sort of friend I could do with in RL right now. I have got some good friends but they just don't get it (having never experienced this type of loss). Their attitude is you will only come across the same thing somewhere else so might as well face it head on but you are so right - it is only certain people that trigger it. I live on a housing estate that calls itself a village and it feels like everyone knows my business. My husband thinks I will feel better towards the women/children who are causing my anxiety a couple of years down the line but I really don't think I will. The whole thing was very public as I had a decent sized bump and I feel like I'm that woman who lost the baby.....even though my husband says I'm yesterday's news (maybe I am, I just don't feel like I am). I was hoping that by some miracle I would become pregnant again and things would smooth over. But that miracle just hasn't happened and isn't likely to (I have just turned 42). I don't want to go on about my dd's in the face of losing your daughter and the ensuing miscarriages you have experienced but this comes wrapped in so much guilt. I think the main person I worry about is my older dd who is due to start secondary school next year. She has 2 or 3 good friends in the village who she can just walk and see, I feel so, so guilty thinking of moving her because of me but it is killing me inside and I know what you have written makes total sense. I am going to show your post to my dh later and really want him to know it's not just me thinking like this. The problem is where we live is so convenient. Turn left three miles and you're in the city, turn right 10 miles and you end up in a beautiful Forest. I don't want to live in the City again and the Forest is very rural and I can't see my daughters would like it as they get older. They would have to travel to work and there have been many accidents on the road in from the Forest and I struggle to think my children would initially (until they relocate) travel along that road. I literally feel like I have nowhere to go. My family live in the Forest but I really don't want to be near them (my sister in law who treated me really badly has had a little boy who would have been a similar age to my ds) and I really can't face that. I have nothing pulling me in a certain direction to move. I live semi rurally but we are not out on our own and it feels a bit scarey to live on our own patch when thinking of getting older (my dh is 15 years older than me) so I could find myself living alone at some point. This house could have grown with us into our old age......a lot of older people live's on a bus route etc. why did this have to happen, I feel like my whole life has been turned upside down.....and my current environment is not helping I'm sure of it.....Bip..good luck with your move....I think it's probably a good thing to do....we're never ever going to forget....and yes we take it with us but having these constant reminders do not help. After losing ds I have retained a bit of a tummy (probably due to the amount of comfort eating I do) and one women inferred I was pregnant again, like it's what people expect and I felt quite traumatised by this..,,,,that man asking where your baby is will definitely not help you Bip. A move sounds good, I think it's what I need too, just where.

Whatsername17 Sun 15-May-16 08:17:24

I think you need some counciling, if you haven't tried that already. I've been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder following a miscarriage at 13 weeks. I didn't even realise there was such a thing. I was forced to miscarry naturally because I found out at Christmas and the hospital refused to help me citing 'protcols' meaning they didn't see me until after my waters had gone, so couldn't get a clear picture on the scan. My private scan showed everything because it was taken before everything happened but they wouldn't accept it and said I had to wait a week. They sent me home telling me I would have a heavy period but it wasn't like that at all. When I started having contractions and feeling the urge to push I thought I was going mad. Until I delivered - alone and terrified in my bathroom. My baby was in its sac and the whole thing was the size of my hand. It was so like birth with my dd. My 'triggers' vary from nipping to the garage at night and suddenly realising it's raining and then I flashback to the night we stood in the garage burying our tiny baby in a planter as it chucked it down outside. Seeing dh cook any kind of bloody meat sends a shiver down my spine. Sometimes I imagine it raining and our patio starting to flood with red water because the baby is buried in the planter and I get the insane urge to dig it up. There are also things like seeing a mothers day card with 'To mummy, love from bump' which kill me. Pregnant women, but oddly not babies themselves. The idea of them is agony but when I meet them I don't feel the way I fear I will because I find that I'm grateful that they lived. I never considered that I could have ptsd and have spent the last 5 months thinking that I was being selfish for not being able to pull myself together and just pretending everything was OK to other people. To me, what you and Kitty have been through is so much worse that I feel a bit of a fraud. The doctor made me realise that I'm not choosing to feel the way I do and I need some help. From reading up your op, perhaps you do too? Good luck flowers

Hampton35 Sun 15-May-16 12:43:18

I am new to mumsnet
I suffered a miscarriage at 16 weeks just over a week ago.
I have had spotting since 8 weeks but was told that all seems fine and my 12 week scan showed a strong heartbeat and a happy looking baby.
So it was a great shock to learn that my baby had died about a week earlier than 16 weeks. I went for a private scan to be told that there was no heartbeat 😞
The past week has been the hardest in my life - having had to be induced and deliver the foetus and endure excessive blood loss and needing GA to remove a retained placenta
My and my hubby are just grief stricken and struggling to come to terms with what has happened and why

pippistrelle Sun 15-May-16 12:56:25

Oh Hampton, I am very sorry for your loss.

pippistrelle Sun 15-May-16 12:59:49

And whatsername, I'm glad you've been helped to realise that it's not a choice to feel the way you do. I'm glad too that it sounds like you're now getting some good support.

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