Fireworks and Trauma

roman candle
Many of us enjoy fireworks, but for some the noise triggers upsetting memories.

Not everyone enjoys fireworks.  Most of us associate fireworks with holidays and festive events.  We are not surprised if small children and pets are frightened by the loud noise, but who over the age of five doesn’t love the color and spectacle?

It depends on what memories we each associate with fireworks.  Many of us are reminded of summer picnics, family gatherings, and happy celebrations.  During grief, these memories are upsetting because we miss those who used to be among us.   How will we ever be able to enjoy this time of year again without them?  Even those who are past the heaviest of their grief can have waves of recurring sadness during holidays and special events.

For those with PTSD symptoms related to combat, explosion, or gunfire, fireworks can trigger much different memories including traumatic flashbacks.  It can take years to overcome and de-fuse these reactions.  EMDR is one form of therapy used to address PTSD symptoms.

We may dread the upcoming holiday, knowing how upsetting it will be.  We don’t want to have to explain our feelings to anyone when we are in pain already.  We may lash out or withdraw, leaving those around us confused about where did that come from.  It is important to acknowlege and allow for these feelings, even if we cannot yet fully express them to others.

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