Triggering Grief, Triggering Joy

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops a scene from a morning hike off a country road that triggered happiness rather than grief.Smelling ripe peaches or hearing certain Christmas carols can trigger emotional meltdowns that leave you sobbing your eyes bloodshot. But what I didn’t realize before is that triggers like these can also bring memories that warm and comfort you. Sometimes, the thing that plays with your passions smacks you plainly in the gut. Other times, you find yourself shaking your head in disbelief at how the mind can mash your feelings.

Like last Saturday, when a mysterious euphoria set in after a morning hike through lush woods. What on earth could infuse my brain with shear bliss? Was it the wildflowers? The sun? We had new haircuts, the dog and I, and we climbed down a small hill at the end of the trail, and found a shady spot on the quiet country road. There was a pond nearby. Swallows soared overhead. And a cool breeze stroked my bare shoulders. Maybe it was the perfect temperature of the air. Or perhaps it was the sound of my dog lapping water from the cup I held, her whiskers brushing my hand as she gratefully gulped. Could it have simply been my anticipating Chinese leftovers for lunch? I don’t know what it was, but something felt right and vaguely familiar.

Catching up to the friend I’d hiked with, in giddy bewilderment I announced,” I think I feel – happy.”


What triggers your happiness? What triggers your grief?



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4 thoughts on “Triggering Grief, Triggering Joy

  1. Lynne Taetzsch

    So glad you had this experience, Robin. Most often, my happiness trigger is being with my daughter, grandchildren, and sisters. I cherish our time together.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Now THAT, meaning daughters and grandchildren, THAT would definitely trigger some happiness – if I still had a live daughter, or had even just one stinkin’ little grandchild . So that leaves sisters. And I admit there’s potential there. Sisters. Considering this. My sisters have been pretty good to me. This ought to count towards some happiness triggering. They like eating out at nice restaurants. That gets me smiling a bit. Maybe.

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    How wonderful, Robin. The Monarch butterflies are my anti-anxiety, happiness meds these days. My back porch is a butterfly nursery. Grief is a constant, but flares up, sometimes for no reason I understand. It’s a common visitor in my dreams. I’m glad you’re remembering happy.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It doesn’t happen very often. And now that I’m looking for it, who knows if it will happen again at all. But it was a warm wonderful feeling that lasted for days. Happiness meds? Unfortunately my happiness seems mostly anchored to what I eat. Amazing what ice cream can do. Or lobster. Having a hard time imagining getting happy over Monarch butterflies. Maybe because the only Monarchs arriving anywhere near my house are dead ones. It isn’t fair but my collection of dead Monarchs is increasing.


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