It is natural for people who are in the process of grieving to dread certain events, such as holidays, anniversaries and birthdays. Grieving often begins in anticipation of an event; such grief is expected and accepted.
However, the bereaved also may be taken by surprise by a grief ambush, which is usually unexpected and often elicits a significant emotional response. An ambush can be triggered by hearing a loved one’s favorite song on the radio, finding an old photograph or note from a loved one, or even something as trivial as passing a loved one’s favorite food in the grocery aisle.
How Does One Handle an Ambush?
The healthiest way to handle a grief ambush is to accept it as part of the normal grieving process. Sometimes grievers report that they believed themselves to be doing well until, suddenly, they experienced an intense grief response. Afterwards, they judge themselves to have “gone backwards” in their grief. This is not the case. Understanding that these episodes are a normal part of grieving can take the fear out of the experience.
Know they are going to happen, allow yourself to feel and express the emotions, and keep pressing forward in your grief journey.
For more information about dealing with grief ambushes, contact our bereavement services coordinator at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare at 330.264.4899.