The Color of Grief

On Monday, I received a phone call that my nephew passed away unexpectedly. It’s one of those phone calls that you are never ever prepared for. As I spoke with family members we grappled with the questions of why, as we often do. As the day came to an end I noticed a heaviness that seemed to drape over me like a blanket. It doesn’t matter how old we are or how many loved ones we’ve lost, the feeling is the same. Exhausted from the heaviness of the news I turned in for the night, hoping that when I awoke it would all be just a dream.

The next morning as I began to go about my day, I couldn’t help but feel like something had shifted in the world around me. That blanket of heaviness was still draped over me. As I looked around it seemed as though the world had gone dim. I looked up in to the sky and at the landscape around me, the bright hues that I seen just a day before, seemed dull, muted and colorless.

Grief is utterly unexplainable. There are no words that can begin to define the experience. Yet the descriptions of how grief feels within seems universally the same.

In our grief we believe that in order to cope we must retreat within and cave to the voices of “I should have done something, it’s my fault, if only, but why?” Although those questions and feelings are a normal part of grief, we also need a continual interweaving of many things to help us heal and overcome our sorrow. As difficult as it may seem we must lean into our sorrow, for turning away from it gives in more power, weakening our ability to cope. We must also give our grief a voice by sharing our thoughts, feelings and happy memories with others. Sharing with one another provides an atmosphere comfort and compassion. We then need rest and solitude to rejuvenate. Throughout this intricate interweaving, we also need to practice self-compassion. The kind of compassion that you would offer a loved one or a friend when they are suffering, we must extend to ourselves. Self-Compassion is a great healer. It allows us to forgive ourselves for what ever part we think we might have played in the loss of our loved one. It is the continual interweaving of all these that help us cope and heal the ache inside.

In time, the blanket of heaviness will become lighter. The colors and bright hues will return. The world around us will not appear as dull and muted.