The Color Of Grief

August 3rd, 2011

Red is the color of grief.  As is blue, green, yellow, black, orange, white, or any color that The SC randomly grasps on the days that run together in slow motion.  I notice, simply notice.  A change has occurred.  I walk aimlessly in the hat room, having difficulty deciding which beauty makes sense to me today, which crown will top the outfit that I have little energy to create from a disorganized inventory that seems hesitant to pull me into what used to be a comforting and familiar haven.

Spontaneously stopping by a friend’s home several weeks ago in my estate sale ‘Moschino Jeans’ red dress with NYC street vendor black straw hat with red trim, accessorized by red bangles and red geraniums with yellow pot, I was unaware that soon I would descend into a grief so deep that I could barely move. Passing the three month mark has been discussed in books about grief and hospice does not accept the bereaved into their ‘Creative Arts Support Group’ that I will be attending until this time period had passed.  So this is what they meant! That the state of shock would pass and the reality of loss would inhabit my body.  That I would become physically ill, my body collapsing into itself.  I had remained healthy during the six plus years of Nelson’s illness, his death and the planning and execution of his memorial service. I am riding an elevator with no operator or buttons that control the floor that I would like to access.  I have no control of the up or down, the in or out. I descend and explore a memory, a facet of our relationship that I hadn’t thought of before, an insight that eluded me in the past.  I feel immobilized and have difficulty communicating with others.  I feel more comfortable just sinking into it, the ‘it’ of a fierce sadness that had not been exposed until this point in time. Multiple emotions and feelings sweep through me.  Sadness, guilt, anger, fear, anxiety, confusion. Nothing seems off limits as I give into each, giving it a space to rush in and move out.  In a weakened state I continue to go to yoga, meditate, eat, sleep and maintain the bare minimum of my life because I know, beneath all of this, I long to reach for reconciliation.  I yearn to explore my plans and dreams that seem so remote and far away that I can barely feel them, imagine them, flow with them.  Waiting for the elevator to move up again to a floor that allows me to gasp for air before it lowers me to another level unexpectedly, delivering me to the next degree of intensity, a place beyond sadness, a place so deep, a place shared by many before and with me at this time. Within this space I know a seed has been planted and will at some point grow.  Despite the pain and struggle, I have hope that this elevator will take me up to a level where I can once again enjoy the light of my experience.  That all my dreams and plans will grow from this new depth that I have fully experienced and allowed, although I feel I have little control over the timing.  And from this ‘knowing’ I will somehow bloom anew, eager to discover the resplendent headwear of the world.  But not today and I don’t know when that day will come.

34 Responses to “The Color Of Grief”

  1. une femme

    Dearest Judith, I know there’s nothing I can say at this point to ease the pain or move you through the grieving process with greater speed. If words had that power, I would do my best to find the right ones. (((hugs)))

  2. Angela

    Judith, you continue to move and inspire me beyond words, as you write the unwriteable yourself. Sending love to you.

  3. Lonnie

    First off, I hope I did not offend with my last comment about black. Indeed, from your place, all the colors are “blue”. Even white is empty and black at once. Your post is genuine and truthful. Greiving is not for sissies. Neither is love. Try to hold on to fact that it was un-measureable love that brought to un-describeable greif. Keep moving. And ask for the help that you can muster.
    Love you, L

  4. Gina

    Dear Judith
    Your descriptions of your experience, your love and your understanding of the grieving process are the most poignant and have the greatest clarity that I have ever come across. You have a wisdom and a great love that will certainly help you to find a new path in life. I wonder if that path might include helping others through their own grief beyond those you undoubtedly help in your blog. Should you choose that path when the time comes I have no doubt that you would bring immeasurable comfort to many.
    Love and thanks

  5. Veshoevius

    You always look so stunningly elegant and have a wonderful smile in all your blog posts and yet even after poignantly sharing in such detail the true depth of what you are going through underneath this brave facade I cannot imagine what you are describing feels like – inevitably one day I will and will think back on your words and description and say to myself, ah yes she described it very well, or maybe that it feels even worse than that, because I think you are a very brave woman to have suffered what you have, cope as you have and open your wounded heart and soul to the world like this.

  6. freefalling

    So beautifully and perfectly expressed.

  7. Nanci Weir

    Dear Judith-

    I cannot phantom what’s going on inside of you during this time and space…..but I can feel your pain through the expressions of your DEEP-felt words…yes, it seems like an endless pit! but, trust… when the that DAY comes and it will come…that’s the DAY you have been waiting for! Love you….

    Nanci Weir

  8. Paula

    Judith–I have seen people rise from the depths and exit the elevator. I have hope that it will come to you too. My heart reaches out to you~

  9. WendyB

    ((hug)) — that’s all I have…

  10. janine

    Oh, Judith. I wish I could tell you when. Or how. And that it would be soon that you’d move thru this world of pain beyond all words, this foreign landscape.

    You are absolutely right that something has begun within in you that WILL indeed bloom, that your dreams and gifts and deep understanding of beauty will one day move you into a path of great purpose and fulfillment.

    Right now it seems, I know, that you are so far from that place. Brava for continuing to MOVE through this, as impossible as it must seem. But also give yourself permission to do what you need each day, even if that means not moving. Or not speaking. Lose yourself in music and nature and color. It may still feel terrible, but that comfort works on a cellular level I think.

    I wish I could do more for you. I think we need people to midwive us through grief and mourning. I pray that everyone around you can give you that strength and sustenance. Just know we are here, we are all here. And remember to breathe deeply. Let the earth and sun and moon ground you.

    Thinking of you and sending love,
    Janine

  11. Jean

    My dearest friend. You describe a state of being that I have glimpsed and I join all the other people who love you, as we extend our arms to hold you/ catch you/ lift you as you have done for others. Rest. Your day will come, absolutely.

    Love to you and Camille, thinking of you both.

  12. Terri

    It is possible that this will be a duplicate message. If so, please delete one.

    Is it possible to go into the hat room and sit with your eyes closed. I will venture to say that a hat will call out to you. Very faintly, but calling your name nevertheless.

  13. SizzleandZoom

    You are articulate as you describe this grief you travel through. You stun me with your vivid descriptions of this time. My love to you, Suzie

  14. puncturedbicycle

    I’m so sorry for your heartache.

  15. melanie

    I can’t add any more to all the wise and warm words written above. All I can say is I join everyone in sending you love and prayers during this most painful chapter of your life. I hope you never tire of my saying…you inspire me so much and I will be here, with all your readers, for as long as you keep writing, giving us a model of courage, sincerity, truth and strength in the midst of such pain! Love to you from the Philippines!

  16. Nanci Weir

    Oops! Mispelled word: I meant “fathom” not “phantom.”

  17. Rose

    My poor sweet girl. How you suffer, and yet, how vividly you can convey what you are going through. You are so brave to let the grief enfold you, and not to push it away with activity, “busy-ness” of any kind. Hopefully that means that once you have gone down this elevator shaft, you won’t have to do it again. Yes, the day will come when you can move forward. Life will never be the same as it was. It will be different, but still beautiful and an adventure because it’s you who is living it.

    Much love from England,
    Rose

  18. Camille

    My dearest momma, you are so beautiful even when going through this painful time. I love you with the core of my being and I know you will shine brighter than you ever knew possible and will be even stronger as we come up out of this dark hole. His love is still here and it will carry us forward. He is all around watching and protecting. Let his spirit pick out your hats for you…

  19. Linda

    You may not feel it now, but you are gaining strength, perspective, and understanding through this process, and will no doubt find your way to a new place where your dreams will gain clarity. In my experience, the oddest thing about grieving a significant loss is the way seemingly tangential triggers can open up a well of sadness just when I’m thinking I’m feeling more like myself again. So, to use your elevator analogy, sometimes it feels like the cable has snapped and I’m free-falling back to a floor I thought I’d never see again. Life, with all its joy and sadness, is truly mysterious.

  20. Barbara

    Hold on, just hold on. It will get better. Not tomorrow, not next week maybe, but it will. Your love will carry you through.
    Thank you for sharing.

  21. janine

    Just read this – wanted to share it:

    “In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
    And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
    Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.” – Gibran

    Hang on. Hang in there.

  22. Rosy

    The pain of grief is strange, the mind has to go down the elevator to the lowest floor of all to start up again and go at last, outside … only time holds the key to open the elevator. We are all with you.

  23. streakyj

    thank you for continuing to post during such a painful time. you are still communicating with us readers with your characteristic clarity and eloquence, and our thoughts are with you!
    btw, that little black straw hat is very sharp.

  24. Serene

    I really do understand. Really. My young mother (56 yrs old) passed away from cancer 6 years ago this December. And it’s so true….the first couple or few months there are so many details that will keep you occupied. That deter your mind from the fact that life as you’ve always known it is now completely different. That you have to find your way in this world minus …….minus…….I don’t even know what the word is for someone to whom you are really and truly connected, almost physically so! One day, you think, “I can do this. I’m ok.” and the next, you just want to run screaming down the street, or into the woods or anywhere in an attempt to run away from the emptiness you feel and the excruciating pain.

    I really do understand. It WILL get better. Each day. After a while, that elevator will slow down and go where YOU send it and not randomly carry you between floors of emotion. Consider this a cyber hug…..~Serene

  25. Bella Q

    I can only dimly imagine the grief you are now experiencing. I am sorry for this deep wound that love created- I am grateful to witness, even from this distance the impact of true love, for I know it is your great, great love for Nelsen’s great spirit, and his eternal love for you that has created this wound; it is the price we pay to love in our mortal state. You inspire me to no end, beautiful lady, with your style, but mostly with your STYLE, the way you bravely share and endure with a grace and dignity that moves me to follow suit, and embrace life, love and loss with an elegance that shines even in the dark hours. xo. -Bella Q

  26. Carolyn Fineran

    Elegant lovely friend who shares so much with us. You are doing deep, important work and will forever KNOW this wisdom. Stay the course and wait! Love. C

  27. That's Not My Age

    This is so beautifully written and so moving – I’m sorry to hear the pain and heartache you’re feeling but you will get through this, the elevator will slowly take you up again. Be strong.
    x

  28. Norma

    Judy-
    We looked at your latest entry into the blog and are happy you can find interest in your fashions again. And keep up your yoga and outside interest. Friends do help so much. I hope your illness keeps getting better. I’m thinking of you always.
    Much love, Mom

  29. Cheryl

    Dear Judy,
    What you have written is so eloquent and beautiful. 15 months ago I lost the love of my life and soulmate. Every day I try to embrace the fact that life is still beautiful, just profoundly different.
    Everything beautiful is my Love, and your Love is also with you always. You are such an inspiration……thank you….Hugs, Cheryl

  30. melinda

    Sweet Judith, took the time to catch up with The Style Crone, How your words touch me. Reminiscenes of the disconnect between the vibrant colors of this world and the darkness of dispair. Nine years have pasted since the transition of my best friend Esther, Six for Johnny and two for my beloved daddy. A phrase cut out of a magizine “Loose yourself to Find yourself” speaks to me. Time well spent. I love you, admire you and appreciate your honest and direct telling of the story.

  31. Susan Tiner

    What a fascinating, inspiring, brave and honest person you are. I am honored to be a new reader of your blog. The elevator metaphor is so gripping. Thank you for writing about this process and sharing it with your readers. It is a gift.

  32. Joan Price

    You describe this so well. Yes, it’s physiological as well as emotional, the body collapsing, as you say. I sprained an ankle at the end of the first year of grief, then shattered a shoulder at the end of the second year. I found I was literally an accident waiting to happen, unaware of my surroundings, not receiving warning signs that I was out of control.

    Be very careful, dear one. Take care of yourself as Nelson would have wanted you to. He’s watching over you.

  33. Aging stylishly, online and in the streets | Fashion|News|Gossip|DecadesFashion|

    [...] died in 2011, and her grief poured into her clothes and onto her blog. In a post titled “The Color of Grief,” she wrote how disoriented and confused she was three months after her husband’s [...]

  34. Older fashionistas strut their style | CNNnews.info

    [...] died in 2011, and her grief poured into her garments and onto her blog. In a post patrician “The Color of Grief,” she wrote how irrational and confused she was 3 months after her husband’s death; she [...]

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