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  • Natalie Adams

Unexpected Triggers of My Grief

When I charged my old iPod I just expected to find some old songs. Instead, I found old photos of my dad and I.

A black iPod is pictured on a black surface.

The other day, my mom and I were in the car listening to music when her iPod stopped working.

"I'm going to have to get a new one of these soon," she said, staring at her ancient iPod.

"You can use mine if you want," I said. "I haven't turned it on in awhile but I'm guessing it still works."

When we got home, I instantly went to my bedroom and started looking for my old iPod. After about five minutes of searching, I found it and the charger cord. It was dead, so I plugged it in and forgot about it for awhile.

In the evening, a few hours later, I came back up to my room and saw that my iPod was fully charged. I unplugged it and turned it on. It had been a few years since I used it, so I spent the first few minutes looking through all of my old songs (a lot of Disney) and listening to a few.

After looking through my music, I started looking through the other things on my iPod, and noticed that there was a file of photos. Clicking on it, I was greeted instantly by my dad's face.

I scrolled through around 30 photos of my family, with almost every photo having my dad and I in it. I saw photos that I distinctly remembered but hadn't seen for years and photos that I had no memory of (even though I had put them on my iPod as a kid).

Before my dad's death, I would've just thought that the photos I found were funny, and showed my dad next time I saw him. Staring at the iPod after his death, though, and scrolling through memories that I hadn't even realized I had, I felt a wave of grief coming over me.

There my dad and I were. Smiling at a camera, not a care in the world. Now, I would give anything to be in that moment again, and at the time I'm sure I had no idea how much it would mean to me.

I sat down, turning on an old Disney song and scrolling through the photos again, and again, and again. Each time I saw my dad's face, I felt worse. I suddenly wished I hadn't even opened the photo file and seen them.

There are a lot of unexpected moments of grief like these that I've encountered. Doing something simple like turning on an old iPod turns into me crying at 5 PM over photos on a tiny screen.

At first, I tried to avoid these moments. Anything involving my dad or my things from his house stayed in my basement and I avoided it at all costs. As time has passed, though, and I've been unable to avoid little things that remind me of my dad, I've learned that moments that trigger my grief cannot be avoided completely.

With this realization, I've come to learn how to deal with these things. After coming across something that reminds me of my dad, I'll spend a few minutes upset and then do something that makes me happy, like texting one of my friends.

It's okay to get upset when you encounter unexpected things that make you think of your grief. Let yourself feel your emotions, no matter if they're caused by old photos or your childhood iPod.


Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks.

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