I can never be sure when I will be re-traumatized by memories of loss; when grief related triggers will pop up.
Today it happened during the chaos of the after-school hours. The kids were doing a heck of a job testing my patience with loads of whining, crying and yelling. So, I turned on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in the hopes that the calming nature of the show would rub off on them.
Much to my surprise, and dismay, today’s episode involved the Tiger Family preparing for the birth of a new baby. I cringed as my body tensed up.
I remembered this episode, this whole season of the show actually. I remembered turning on the TV one day in order to get a break from my then toddler, only to be faced with a pregnancy announcement from Mom Tiger. It couldn’t have come at a worse time as I had just lost a baby of my own. I simply could not handle one more pregnancy announcement, even if it did come from a fictional tiger.
I remembered leaving my daughter to watch that first episode as I cried in my bedroom and journaled about how silly it was to be crying over a pregnant cartoon character, but also how unfair it was. Even Daniel Tiger’s mom was having a baby and there I was, missing mine. I had tried so hard to protect myself from pregnancy announcements and the sight of pregnant women, but there was no escaping it. They were everywhere, even on the one show that I allowed my daughter to watch.
Day after day, she watched the story of the expanding Tiger family unfold, and she celebrated as Daniel became a big brother. And day after day, I cried. Because everyone seemed to be celebrating the birth of a new baby. Everyone except for me. My life had been touched by death and I had yet to find my way out of the trenches of grief.
I was gripped with anger, jealousy and sorrow. All normal grief-associated feelings, but I was ashamed of them. And I hated that I couldn’t even observe a make-believe pregnancy without those feelings rising to the surface.
And today, if only for a moment, I was overcome with those same feelings. The feelings that make me want to crawl under a rock or maybe just under the blankets in order to avoid facing a cruel world.
But I was also reminded, that through the gift of time, joy has become greater than grief. I am not living the same life I was 3 years ago, thankfully. God has delivered me from my darkest days. And while these triggers bring difficult memories to the surface, they also remind me of my baby and of the love that has stood the test of time.