Summertime! Long days and warmer weather make this time of year exciting for most of us. We get to enjoy increased outdoor activities, beautiful summer nights and fun-filled family vacations. But for others, it really isn’t all that great. It’s one long rollercoaster ride of triggers and you’re actually peeking from under the seat waiting for it to be over.
If you’re experiencing grief during this season, here are a few tips on overcoming triggers and the summertime blues.
With a little work, you can enjoy the ride again!
1. Honor your humanity.
Be honest with yourself about why you are avoiding particular activities, people, or places.
For years I would make every effort to avoid the baby department at Target. It was a trigger for me. While pregnant, I often visited and visualized what life would be like as a new mommy. I remember all the cute summer outfits in the store. I would see the beach toys and imagine what vacationing would be like for our little family. It was a part of the dream that I had for my baby. And when he died, so did that dream.
One day while shopping for a friend, I had to admit why I was avoiding the baby section. I decided to honor my pain. No more running and avoiding. The tears fell as strolled down the aisles, but I embraced each drop.
Honor your grief — the feelings of hurt, disappointment, anger, shame, guilt, frustration, and sadness. Honor it. Whatever you may be feeling in the moment, be honest with yourself and embrace it. Embracing it will propel you forward.
Related: 40 Special Ways To Honor Your Child
2. Say something.
Share your pain with someone. You are not alone. It may feel like no one understands, but you are not alone.
While lying at the pool during our most recent family vacation, a complete stranger walked up to me with tears in her eyes. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the area was full of kids having lots of family fun. This woman paused in front of my chair and whispered, “I’m sorry, but I’m just so sad.” I jumped up and asked her what was wrong. She shared with me that her husband had died 16 months earlier and being on vacation without him had become unbearable. It was her trigger.
She didn’t want the kids to see her cry so she walked over in my direction. I shared some encouraging words with her and gave her a big hug. In our embrace, she laid into my shoulder and wept. If only for a moment, she was not alone in her pain.
We were total strangers, and I will admit that it caught me off guard. But at that moment she needed to share her pain with someone and a not-so-strange stranger was available.
Related: Supporting You in Grief Saved Me Too
Our experience with grief allowed us to have something in common.
I don’t know the pain of losing a husband, but I was available for her. My husband was actually standing a few feet away, but I was still able to empathize with and support her. We bonded. She was not alone.
Don’t be afraid to share your pain with others.
Your support can come from unexpected places. Family, friends, medical professionals or total strangers — find someone and say something.
Allow the universe to respond to your needs. You are not alone.
3. Create new memories.
It’s impossible to erase the trauma that comes after infant loss. However, creating new memories can help frame it with healing.
July is traditionally one of my least favorite times of the year. It harbors the most painful memories of my son’s birth and death. July is a trigger. Every year I’ve anticipated it “getting better” but time has not healed that wound. This year we chose the love of family and the joys of a family vacation. We’ve discovered that it’s not time that heals old wounds, its love.
Shower your life with love.
You may decide to memorialize your loss in an intimate and personal way. Create a keepsake, volunteer with a local charity, or host a commemorative event. Plant a tree, release butterflies, or have an annual party. Whatever you decide, become intentional about creating new memories during this season.
Create new memories anchored in love.
4. Always remember.
Facing your pain can be scary. Not only is it scary to go to the depth of your agony. But many fear that healing will cause them to forget that the pain ever existed, that they’ll forget that their baby existed.
Truth is, you’ll always remember. The trigger may begin to retreat. And the pain may dwindle. But the scars will make sure that you never forget.
So go ahead and face your fears. It’s safe to pull the trigger on your healing.
May your summertime blues be highlighted with beautiful sun rays!
Kierra Sunae’ is an infant loss advocate committed to supporting families on their healing journey of life after infant death. As a wife and mom who has triumphed over tragedy, she is a ray of sunshine determined to make grieving hearts smile again… one footprint at a time.