5 Ways to Manage Grief Triggers After Pregnancy Loss

Do you know what a Grief Trigger is? 

According to the Cope Foundation: A grief trigger can be anything that brings up memories related to your loss. They may be obvious and easy to anticipate – like a birthday or a holiday – or they may surprise you – like spotting someone who looks like your loved one in a crowd.

Well, last week I had a follow up appointment at my OB/GYN office.  As soon as I walked into the office and saw other pregnant women it took me back to going into the office empty handed after each of my losses.  I felt the anxiety, the fear, the doubt, the form of PTSD that I have taking over me.  I was letting it control me and my blood pressure.  I realized rather quickly after the nurses took my vitals when my BP was 140/90 that the OB/GYN office is a Grief Trigger for me.  The irony is that this OB/GYN office is not the same office I frequently visited during my past pregnancies.  This office is over 400 miles away.  Crazy right?   

I posted a question on my Instagram Stories does anyone else have PTSD or Anxiety when going to the OB/GYN?  Many of my friends messaged me that they felt the same way or had some sort of anxiety, or fear, or anticipation of bad news from the doctor.  I knew I had to write about these triggers and how we should recognize that they exist and how to manage and cope with our feelings.

A trigger for you maybe that anniversary or birth date, Johnson's Baby Products smells (I immediately think of a newborn when I smell baby lotion on someone), hearing another baby cry, attending a baby shower after your loss, seeing other pregnant women, all of your friends announcing their pregnancies, going into the Baby section at department stores, etc..  I'm not sure what feeling of overwhelm or anxiety is going to be triggered for you since your loss, but I'm certain that once you know what it is, there is an opportunity for healing to take place.

Here are 5 ways we can manage our feelings around Grief Triggers.

  • Be prepared. I know this may seem very obvious.  However, I can attest to those feelings of anxiety and fear going into an OB/GYN office as I have experienced them before, after my pregnancy losses.  I knew this was a trigger for me, but I was not prepared for that grief to come back.  Another way to be prepared is to know that those birthday date, anniversary dates are coming.  Any reactions from these dates are normal.  Knowing ahead of time that you may feel sad or down, during those dates can help you understand them and even turn them into opportunities for healing.  
  • Plan a distraction. Schedule a gathering or a visit with friends or loved ones during those times when you are reminded about your baby.  Surround yourself with those who love you and your angel baby.  Reclaim your time and practice some self care.
  • Start a new tradition and honor your baby.  Release some balloons on your babies birthday or anniversary date, or plant a tree in honor of your angel.
  • Connect with a Grief Coach or Therapist.  In Episode 4 of the #EMMPodcast Erica M. McAfee Podcast I discuss Grief Triggers with Jheanell Adams of Angel Mom Alliance.   If you haven't listened, please do so now, I know it will bless you.  We discuss in depth as to why therapy is important in understanding what triggers us so that we are more prepared emotionally when it happens again.  Find someone, a grief coach or therapist, who'll encourage you to talk about your loss. Consider joining a Support group like the Angel Mom Alliance to help guide you through your triggers. 
  • Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions. It's OK to be sad and feel a sense of loss, but also allow yourself to experience joy and happiness. As you find out what your grief triggers are and share in special moments, you might find yourself both laughing and crying.

Keep the Faith!
~Erica