Intellectually, I could not imagine that almost four years after my husband’s unexpected death that a visit to a long put off “close his bank account” could trigger the horrendous rush of feelings.
Some of my worst grief triggers come up suddenly. Most of my triggers over these last years are from incredible memories triggered by a movie or a song. These kinds of flashbacks can take me from a rush of happiness to a storm of tears in a split second.
Do you ever have that happen? A trigger that takes you back to either happy moments or saddest moments?
For me, it might be the first time dining out alone or even with a friend at a Marty and my favorite restaurant.
Or it could be watching Formula 1 races alone even though the fun in that was Marty and I talking as we watched together. The first time I watched alone, I remember just deleting the recording. It just wasn’t the same experience.
A fair number of my triggers in this loving memory category have softened. I’ve learned I now can be incredibly grateful for experiences I would not have had without the blessing of this man in my life.
However, some of the most challenging practical things to do early on caused heartbreak and aggravation all at once.
Do you remember those mundane tasks of calling your telephone carrier to put the account in your name?
My experience happened just two weeks after Marty died, on the very day my youngest sister was calling me to head home because mom was dying.
And she was persistent, trying to call me at least 5 or 6 times. I was on my third day and 12 hours of dealing with the phone company. The woman must have thought I was looney because we were at the end of the process making this happen, and I frantically stated, “I’m so sorry I have to hang up now because my sister won’t stop calling me, so I have to go.”
Click. I just hung the call.
I called her back, and there I was in another state of shock.
What this triggered in me came out in a discussion in one of my grief groups. The amount of time and the process is absurd. Undoubtedly, many company representatives don’t get training to work with the person at the end of the line with so much emotional upheaval.
One of the women said, “If you think that’s bad, don’t call the cable company, or the gas company, or the electric company. They’ll treat you as if you never existed in dealing with them in those 47 years and make you start as if you are a new customer.”
I listen to advice like this.
Then my finance team told me to keep Marty’s bank checking account open until any checks he might receive stopped arriving.
Last week, I felt it’s time. No checks now for a little over a year.
I drove over to my bank on my way to a planned grocery shopping trip. In my hands were his checkbooks and deposit slips, and death certificate. I already gave them his death certificate a month after he died; however, I felt they might not easily find it.
Carrying this formal document – he died – likely stirred up some of those feelings of his actual death.
But I walked in with confidence asking for the branch manager. “Hello, I’m here to close my husband’s checking account. He died …”
The manager looked at me and quickly said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
I completed the sentence with. “Thank you. My husband died 4 years ago.”
Then it started to well up in me. I didn’t think I would be exported back in time, but I was. The manager’s insistence that I had to be on the account for her to help me was like pouring fuel on the fire and lighting the match along with it.
My listening to her stopped, and I found myself in my head. I started to sob. She still said she would need to know if I was on the account. But I didn’t understand!
It all broke loose – the pain, those last moments – emotions I felt then as if it were now.
I gathered up the checks, the death certificate, and barely audible with my sobbing; I could hear myself say, “I’ll come back another day when you can be more helpful.”
When I got inside my car, the tears and crying let go of screaming. It felt like my mind left my body, and I was no longer present. That’s when inside my head I heard, “call someone.” Thank goodness I was sobbing wildly only with the voicemail message for my banker! She’s the sweetest woman.
Then I thought about God. What worked for me then would work for me now. “Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus, please!”
I became present as I heard in my head, “He is taking care of you in bigger things. Now let Him take care of you with this.”
As best I was able, I pulled myself together, swallowed my pride, and walked back into the bank. I’m not great at being humble, and I only mumbled, “I’m sorry,” And spoke more confidently with, “Let’s get this done. What do you need?”
Now that I think about it, I’d give up these worst triggers for the kind of triggers that bring up a wonderful memory.