Trigger warnings have been a complicated subject for me. I think part of it is that I feel like many people don’t understand what they mean.
A “trigger” is a reminder; something that takes you back to a traumatic moment or memory. Triggers can be straightforward; the mention of a car accident can trigger a personal memory, for example. But triggers are equally likely to be more mundane; the things you hear in the day-to-day.
One of my biggest triggers was the mention of a specific restaurant.
And this I think is why I find frustration in requests for trigger warnings. I do acknowledge why people want them. I do acknowledge it can be difficult to hear about the death of a child. It reminds you of your own mortality. It reminds you that children can die, and I think that’s a fact many people would like to forget.
I wish it were possible to forget.
The thing is, when you’re thinking about traumatic events, you have to consider that different people are coming from different perspectives. And while yes, you may be “triggered” by the mention of a child’s death, sometimes it is important for a parent to talk about it anyway. Sometimes the fact that a child lived, however briefly, is so much more important than your desire to pretend death isn’t a thing.
And most importantly, you need to understand that the parents living this tragedy don’t have the option of asking for trigger warnings to shield them from their lives. They have to live these things, daily, and sharing about their children is often the only means of coping; the only way to honor the life that remains.
When you consider the other perspectives, you maybe understand that your momentary discomfort is the price of living in society. That some situations are less than perfect, and sometimes we have to compromise.
Hearing bad news is never pleasant. But please think, before you request a trigger warning, if the unpleasant sensation is worse for you than it is for the person speaking.
You may find it “triggering” to hear about the death of my child. Imagine how much harder it is to live with it.
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