There are going to be conversation topics, movies, words, songs, scents, items, and places that bring you back to the time when your parent died. These things can suddenly bring you back to a day, a week or just a moment. Whenever I smell strong cleaning products, I go back to that Tuesday night in the ICU room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

My dad called my sister and me in to say goodbye because they were almost positive my mother was not going to make it until morning. We walked into the waiting room. Then we had to go into the patient area. As I walked through the double doors, the strong scent of cleaning products hit me and I couldn’t breathe. As we stepped through the first set of curtains, the smell got stronger.

There she was, hooked up to tons of machines; she was ghostly white and her eyes were closed; her chest rose and fell in tandem with the machine to her right. Every time I catch a whiff of cleaning products, I am taken back to this particular moment.

Everybody goes back to a different moment and has a different trigger. These triggers will last for years, but they fade over time. Even now, three years later, my heart still beats faster when I pass my trigger; I know how to control it better now. With time you will learn to control your reaction to the trigger, and when you encounter that trigger, do not to close your eyes and shy away from it. While that usually that calms a person down, in this situation, it can potentially incite that person to sucked more deeply into that scary moment. Keep in mind that although triggers are scary, they are also manageable.

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