It’s tricky what triggers grief

By Steve Wickham

As I watch a state basketball grand final, praying for friends who are playing, just enjoying the contest, something strikes me. That sense of déjà vu.

We were there four years ago almost to the day. And this game mattered because I had close pastoral relationships with a couple of the players and had been praying a lot for one particular player. It was good to wish her the best as the team warmed up.

That night four years ago was one of our more memorable dates we took Nathanael on.

It was a night when he was safe in Sarah’s womb, 28 weeks gestation and growing strong, albeit in deep trouble with abdominal organs crowding lung development and having been diagnosed with Pallister-Killian Syndrome five weeks earlier.

That period was such an intense period of our lives.

Not that we could know it on August 29, 2014, but the two weeks following that intensity would ramp up. We knew at the time that God was Present there with us because of how much was being thrown at us in spiritual warfare. The devil hated everything we stood for. He hated the support that God had garnered for us in preparing to lose Nathanael. We were patently aware of the enemy’s schemes. Somehow, everything that was happening against us God was using for His glory.

As I watched the Facebook live stream of the 2018 grand final, memories of 2014 flooded back, of the players on the roster back then, one who has become a dear friend even if on the other side of globe, and of the experience itself. But Sarah was already becoming very uncomfortable. It had been 17 days since her initial amnioreduction procedure, and she was due for the second one within days. But she never complained. The issues in our lives were far bigger than that.

As I cast my mind back, of the relationships we had with that team, and with many others also supporting us, it seems weird to have felt under attack like we were. Again, we knew the fight wasn’t being fought by mere flesh and blood, but in the spiritual realms, where the powers and principalities rule (or, more to the point, think they do).

And still there is this grief that we were carrying, and now there is the trigger of that emotional time.

In some ways it’s very cool, because what we would give to be back there, suffering what we were, but to have Nathanael in our possession once more, to feel him kicking, to see him moving under ultrasound, these things were phenomenal to us!

So, I’m thankful that this has been triggered, but it’s not always the case in grief or trauma is it?

No, far from it. When severely negative experiences, that converted, are meaningful in trauma, we see how those things have changed us. Those experiences bore deeply into our psyches. It happens. Triggers are set. Stimuli takes place. And next thing you know you’re re-experiencing some very familiar emotions.

If you have triggers, and if there are certain experiences that set you off, I encourage you to be brave, find a therapist who is safe for you, and learn ways of making those experiences part of your overall growth. I know you can and will be able to do it.

By Steve Wickham