What Are "STUGS" - St. Augustine Health Ministries

Holy Family Bereavement Counselor, Carrie shares her story of STUGS

When I was 22 years old, my mom passed away from breast cancer at the age of 51. This was not only a hard time for myself, but for my family as well. When my mom died, I had the general knowledge of what grief was, but I was not aware of specific theories, terms, and processes.

A few years later, I was at a training for a new job. During this training, the facilitator read a story about a young child whose mom died.  Suddenly, a ball of emotion went through my body. Somehow, I was able to make it through the next few minutes before we went on break. Once break hit, I found a corner in a private room and cried. It felt as though my mom just died and I was grieving her all over again. When break was over, I was able to wipe my tears and return to training as if nothing happened.

At this time, I did not understand what happened. It had been over three years since my mothers passing, and I was confused on why I had such an emotional response to that story. It was not until later in my professional development that I learned what a “STUG” was.

A “STUG” is a Sudden, Temporary, Upsurge of Grief. This is when a grieving person is triggered by an outside stimulus and it causes an internal emotional response.  When I learned this term, I was immediately able to identify what happened to me during that training. I suddenly felt more at peace and comfortable with what had occurred. This is when I knew how important it was for other grievers to understand what a “STUG” is.

Facts for a griever

Here are some facts about ‘STUGS” that might help a current or future griever:

  • STUGS are normal.
  • STUGS can occur at anytime during the grief process, 3 months after the loss or ten years.  
  • STUGS typically occur when the griever is least expecting it
  • STUGS typically are intense emotions, but do not last long in length
  • STUGS can become more frequent around birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries
  • It is important to let the STUG occur, versus holding in the emotions
  • Anything can trigger a STUG
  • STUGS are normal.

I am aware that the point “STUGS are normal” is written twice, but this is the most important. If you have a “STUG”, remind yourself that what you are feeling is normal, and that it is okay. This may not take away the pain, but it can help you feel more comfortable in your feelings. Knowledge is power, and the more one understands why they are feeling a certain way, the better one will be able to process and heal.

Want to learn more about Holy Family’s Bereavement Services?

Carrie and her team at Holy Family offer individual and group bereavement counseling services. Just this last month, in person and virtual group sessions took place to provide resources and cultivate community between those going through the grief process. Discover more about Holy Family and the services offered today!