Surviving a Trigger Day

Upon sitting down in church this morning, a woman sitting near us turned to me and asked, “Did you have your baby?” I forced a smile as my heart raced and responded, “ Yes.” She congratulated me and I thanked her. I held back tears the rest of Mass.

It isn’t her fault. She didn’t know that Isabelle passed away just one day after she was born. I could have shared this with her, but didn’t want to make her feel badly. For a moment, after I responded to her question, I felt like a normal mother – a mother whose child was perhaps in the church nursery and who was happy to mention that she had given birth to a beautiful baby girl who keeps her up at night but is happy and healthy. I wanted so desperately for that thought to be true, but after a few seconds I again accepted my reality and tried hard not to draw attention to the tears forming.

Today is a “trigger day.” They happen less frequently than they did in August and September, but they still happen more often than I would like. If you have ever lost someone that you loved, you know that certain things will trigger a wave of emotions. Sometimes these triggers are expected, such as the anniversary of a death or birthday. Other times, the trigger may be completely unexpected, such as the children’s isle in Wal-Mart or a mother holding a child’s hand.

The first key to surviving a trigger day is to stay busy with something that doesn’t allow your mind to wander too much. On occasion though, this is just too difficult, and you simply let yourself mourn and remember.   Some people find it helpful to surround themselves with other people on difficult days, while others prefer a close friend or some alone time. The grieving journey is different for everyone.

Personally, I find it easier to get through trigger days when I get some alone time to process my emotions. My husband has also been a tremendous source of strength and support. He knows and understands my pain and needs only to hold my hand to express that he feels the same way and that he is there for me.

Support does not always have to be face-to-face. I have also found strength and support in the blogging world where it is easy to find others with similar stories to my own. I find it comforting to read other moms’ experiences while working through the pain of loss. Hand-in-hand with reading, I also find writing to be incredibly therapeutic.

My biggest source of strength, however, is my faith. I spent several weeks very angry at God after Isabelle passed away. At some point I realized that it was getting me nowhere. Eventually, I recognized that I needed God to move forward from the loss of my daughter. It has allowed me to see how God has used her to bring others closer to Him. It has also reminded me that children are a gift from God, and that we are not guaranteed any number of days with them. We are instead told to first “Love … as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) to “Bring them up in the training and instructions of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) and finally that we should “Let the children come to me (God), and do not hinder them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14). Matt and I did the best we could to follow this. We prayed for her throughout my pregnancy and had her baptized hours after she was born. She was surrounded with love, and when God call her back to Him, we took some comfort knowing that she would be with the One who loves more perfectly than we were capable.


*On a separate note, my blog has been acting up and has not been allowing people to comment for the last few weeks. I believe that this issue has been resolved. Please note that comments must be approved and will not show up immediately.  Thank you for reading!


  1. Anonymous says:

    Praying that God will continue to comfort you both and that you feel his strong arms around you. Wishing you blessings abounding, especially through the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons! I love you! Becky

  2. Carl Okuyama says:

    Sarah: Thanks for sharing your sad loss; He will always be with you and never forsake you and your family. I can sense your faith and know your love for our heavenly father. Blessing to you in the season. Carl

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