Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Color and Grief

Have you ever contemplated color?  Most of us have grown up with kind parents pointing to various pictures and saying, "red", or "blue", and we happily replied, "wed", and "bwue"!  and everyone clapped.  But if you think about it, who really knows how each individual sees, for example, red.  Say that growing up when someone pointed to a picture of "red" and I chanted my reply, that this is what I saw as RED, but this is what you saw as RED.  We would both grow up calling the hue red, but perceiving vastly different colors.  I know, confusing huh.  If I'm not making any sense, watch this video . . .

While contemplating grief, this analogy came to mind.  Much has been discussed about individual perceptions, how we each perceive the world can be similar or vastly different, but never the exact same.  Likewise, how we each grieve can be similar or worlds apart, and what is comforting to me may not be comforting to someone else.

My first experience with death was at about the age of 8, I think.  A beautiful little girl in my neighborhood only a few years younger than me was hit by a car.  She ran out into a busy street and the driver didn't have time to stop.  At my school soon afterward, they had a moment of silence for her.  This was when I first became aware that people grieve and perceive so differently.  Everyone around me was crying.  My friends who didn't even know her were weeping for her that day.  And there I sat without a tear in my eye, trying to conjure some up and feeling guilty that I wasn't crying.  I was sad.  I was grieving, but my little innocent 8 year old being thought, "I know where she is, she lives on and is with Jesus".  But I worried that I would be judged unkind or that people wouldn't think I was sad for her family and especially her identical twin sister.  I can assure you that I was affected by her passing, and aware of the sorrow of her dear family, but I experienced and expressed it differently than those around me, some who knew her better and some who knew her less.

Fast forward to now, and I still hold firm to the same knowledge I had then.  I know where Marshall is, he lives on and is with Jesus.  But this time, my grieving and expressions of grief are different.  I cry easily, especially at night, but during the day I can appear okay.  I can laugh, I can talk about normal things, I can go about a semblance of a daily routine.  I wonder and feel guilty that maybe Marshall won't know how much I loved him because I'm not confined to my house or my room.  And I think about individuals that cope that way.  I do not judge them for how they cope and grieve and pray they won't judge me for how I do.  The form in which we grieve is not an indicator of how we loved!  The more I go through life, the more I realize the importance of being gentle with those around me, but especially with myself (the hardest part for me).  We are all just trying to do our best!

It has been interesting to me that words that bring comfort to Tyler, don't always bring comfort to me.  And words that comfort me, don't always comfort Tyler.  Expressions from caring family and friends that cause me sadness bring peace to others.  As we attempt to comfort, and as we attempt to be comforted I have found it extremely important to remember these things.  I have come to realize that forgetting it can cause unintentional hurt and pain.  Sorrow and death are difficult all around.  If someone comes to talk to me, just the attempt reminds me that they care, so I focus on feeling their caring and love and gaining strength from it, rather than focusing on whether or not their words, in that moment, bring me peace or anguish.  Because from moment to moment what words comfort me can change.

So thank you to all who have offered their comfort and support!  I love and appreciate you.  Please don't worry about whether or not your words have brought me comfort or anguish.  And please, since it's sometimes hard not to worry, don't let that worry stop you from offering it!  I am learning important lessons from all my range of emotions.  I choose to accept the beauty of your intentions over my perception of your words.  And I hope that as I strive to comfort and bring peace to others, that they will do the same.


  1. Thanks, Mandy, for your beautiful insights. This is such difficult and uncharted territory to navigate through and my love and prayers are with you.

  2. What a way you have with words, Mandy. Thank you. You've got such a beautiful Stout heart.