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Have you ever been unexpectedly transported back to a specific moment in your life by a seemingly ordinary sound? A familiar melody, old songs that you used to listen to, or even the music of an old commercial—these seemingly non significant noises can act as triggers, especially when it comes to grief.

 

If you’ve been to TikTok these past few days, you might have heard of this sound? Yes, it’s just “Girl Harmonizing with Her Fan”. While it may look like nothing or something random, this sound has resonated deeply with many users, triggering memories and feelings of grief. Personally, the first time I heard this, it reminded me of the night we went home after my mother died in the hospital. The exhaustion, the sadness—it all came flooding back. These kinds of experiences highlight how seemingly ordinary sounds can act as grief triggers.

 

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The Psychology Behind it

Research suggests music, specifically, can have different roles in grief.  DiMaio and Economos (2017) have identified three primary functions:

  1. Confronting the Pain: Certain music can evoke emotions, allowing you to process your feelings.
  2. Adapting to the Loss: Music can act as a coping mechanism, offering a temporary distraction from the pain.
  3. Continuing Bonds: Music shared with a loved one can become a bridge, allowing you to feel connected to them through happy memories.

 

While grief is a deeply personal experience, it is amazing how certain melodies or random sounds can impact anyone. It can trigger negatively or in most cases, it can be a coping mechanism for our own personal process of feeling our feelings. So, how about you? How does sound affect you?

 

Understanding Your Triggers

Identifying your grief triggers can be helpful in managing your emotions. Pay attention to how you react to certain sounds and what memories they evoke. If a particular song consistently triggers overwhelming sadness, you might choose to avoid it for a while. However, if another song brings back happy memories and offers comfort, incorporate it into your coping strategy. 

 

The Stages of Grief

Grief, the emotional response to loss, is a complex and often unpredictable journey. While everyone experiences grief differently, there are some common stages outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, and author of the internationally best-selling book, “On Death and Dying.” These stages are not linear and can be experienced in any order or revisited throughout the process:

  • Denial: This is an initial state of shock and disbelief, where the reality of the loss may be difficult to accept.
  • Anger: As the reality of the loss sets in, anger can emerge. This anger can be directed at oneself, the deceased, or even the situation.
  • Bargaining: In an attempt to regain control, a person might engage in “bargaining” with a higher power, promising something in exchange for the return of the deceased.
  • Depression: A period of deep sadness and despair can set in. This stage is often characterized by a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, social withdrawal, and feelings of hopelessness.
  • Acceptance: This is not the same as forgetting or being happy about the loss. Acceptance is about acknowledging the reality of the situation and finding a way to move forward while carrying the memory of the deceased.

 

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Grief is a Journey, Not a Destination

Remember, grief is a personal journey with no set timeline. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, and don’t be afraid to seek support from loved ones or a therapist if you need it. By understanding the stages of grief and the power of sound as a trigger, you can navigate the grieving process in a more mindful and self-compassionate way.

If you or someone you know is finding it difficult to cope with the loss of a loved one, remember that you’re not alone. Feel free to reach out to us here.

 

References: 

https://www.tiktok.com/@claireboyermusic/video/7359417784306076958

DiMaio, L. P., & Economos, A. (n.d.). Exploring the role of music in grief. Bereavement Care. https://www.bereavementjournal.org/index.php/berc/article/view/980

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507885/