Grief Bursts

My sister, Peggy Boyle Lamb, encouraged me to write about Grief Bursts on this website.

She told me it was the most important thing she learned about grief after our Mom’s death.

We talked about how helpful it’s been to have us four sisters share our Grief Bursts with each other.

We’ve taught our adult kids and grandchildren about them. It’s become part of Boyle Family Grieving Culture.

I asked her to share her wisdom about Grief Bursts:


A Grief Burst is an unexpected huge burst of emotion that you can’t escape.
It grabs you suddenly and takes you by surprise.
Often it happens somewhere you don’t want to be grieving.

Like the grocery store.

Yes, the card aisle.

Grief Burst in aisle six. (We laugh. We’ve both been there)

Sometimes it is worse than others. More intense.
It can be a takes- your- breath- away experience of grief.
It’s all consuming in the moment.

Yeah, and you look around and wonder, ‘ where the heck did that come from?’

Anything can trigger it, like near holidays, anniversaries, birthdays.
But often it’s connected to our senses.

Hmmm… that’s a new idea for me. Tell me your theory.

Well, think about it. Our memories of Mom are connected to our senses:
the smell of her perfume; the taste of her coffeecake recipe;
the sound of a robin chirping;
the sight of her bathrobe hanging in the closet…

Mine are connected to place, too.
Certain places can trigger a Grief Burst for me.

Grief bursts are different for me than sadness.
Sadness lingers. Grief bursts don’t.
Once a Grief Burst is over, I’m drained, but I feel better.

Why do you feel better?

Well, that’s the other part that needs to happen.
The best therapy is to tell someone or to write it down.
It helps me to have someone I can call or text and simply say,
“I’m having a Grief Burst”.
They don’t have to fix it or say anything to make it better.
They just have to listen.



Let your tears flow.

Take a breath.

Feel your feet on the ground.

Name it. (This reminds your brain that your feelings will pass.)

Later you may be able to figure out what sparked it. It doesn’t matter if you can’t.

And, find someone to tell who understands.


Peggy, Me, Mom



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