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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grieving Until Morning - Prompted by a ....prompt.

If you're familar with WeBook, some of the writing challenges use prompts.  This particular prompt was the word black.  Since the work I posted hit me pretty seriously, decided to share it.


Black. The color of mourning. Ironic isn't it? The same pronunciation of two different words. Morning. Mourning. One elicits new beginnings, brightness, life; the other sadness, grief, death.

I've mourned a lot in my life. People, animals, friends, jobs and a thousand other notions that may or may not have warranted mourning. I wonder though, if maybe we approach grief in the wrong way. Funerals, it seems, have become more of a social exclamation than anything else. Too many times I've been there and had my heart break for the person who has three people in their room while the funeral guy is coming in asking if they can take some chairs for the room across the hall that's overflowing with people.

We worry about how pretty the casket is, making sure all the flowers are breathtaking, can easily spend 30 or 40 grand on a funeral with all the bells and whistles. Why? It is really honoring the deceased or is it part of our grieving process?

It's a conundrum for me as I've had the discussion with my family on numerous occasions. I'm just superficial enough to not want to rot in a box underground. Maybe I'm just an overly morbid person, but I think about the people I've loved and buried and I can't get the image of those skeletal remains out of my head. Perhaps it's the advent of NCIS and CSI and Law and Order and the multiple exhumations they air that have caused it, but I don't want to be buried in a box.

My daughter and I have gone back and forth over the topic and some of the conversations have ended in tears. I don't know what the right answer is. Do I sacrifice my wishes to make it easier for her to grieve, or does she succumb to my wishes and know that she's done what I want and thus, help herself with the grieving process? I never want to be remembered as a halloween decoration. I want to be cremated, and put in a jar that will make people smile. Rocky and Bulwinkle, or Hello Kitty, or something with some old world goddess with huge boobs and seven eyes.

I suppose maybe grieving is as individual as the person experiencing it. I just can't help that think we'd do well to forget all the black and make loss something more meaningful and less full of the symbolism of times long ago. Have you ever really thought about it? Back when our country was brand spanking new, how many people had brightly colored clothes. They had work clothes and often a single "good outfit". Granted I haven't done any research on this, but I'd assume that homespun lacked the variety of colors we take for granted and that black would be easiest to keep clean and would continue to look nice long after the other colors had picked up dirt from the road and the rather less clean surfaces we have today. Maybe, black has carried through the centuries not as a measure of respect as much as a practical solution to a physical environment.

Another irony comes to mind. Women all have or most have a "little black dress". Again, a dress that's intended for social gatherings, parties, celebrations. Most tuxedos are black and definitely NOT worn to funerals. So why people does the first mention of black bring to mind death or grief?

Maybe I'm wrong. I'm often wrong. I just think that in most any situation where we lose a person we love, there is SO much more to think about that the pain that they're gone. I've always had my own little mantra for getting through this game we call life. "If you can't change it, try not to worry about it." I know, it's not always possible, or even practical, but in most cases it works.

How does that relate to grief? Well, we can't change it. People die. We mourn. The end. Grieving is the process of accepting that and going on with our lives. I don't mean that to sound heartless, but we've all heard it. "They'd want you to go on with your life. To be happy." It's cliche, but it's true. Would it be easier if instead of thinking of our loved ones with the whole "black" frame of mind, we looked at it a bit differently? Not mourning, but morning. A new day, one without a person we loved in our lives, but definitely in our hearts.

I've stopped wearing black to funerals now.

I wear grey. I remember the funeral pyres of old. The flames licking the sky, pyres draped in flowers, the stunning visual of a body floating out into the black of the ocean, into the sunset and it's beautiful. And then comes morning.


AubrieAnne said...

Yeah WEbook! I really need to give them a shout out on my blog. I'm going to start working on a piece soon about my experiences there and what I feel it has really done for my writing and editing. Somebody is going to get a shout out as well (wink wink)!!!

Anyway, on to your piece. Prompts are excellent! And I like the simplicity of this one. "Black!" It can go so many different ways!

This is lovely. The description, the brutally honest tone. Great job.

Stephaine said...

n9ice entry!
I'm not really used to reading blogs with more than 300 words in it.. hehe but this entry is interesting...
gives me new avenue on how to look or interpret the color black...
nice one!

djpr said...

@AubrieAnne - A shout out huh? I started a gropu on WeBook and I think you'll like the initial post. Follower envy!!! That's a new one.

Glad you guys liked the post, like most of the stuff I write it starts off as a project and winds up being something else. A tirade? Lecture? Study guide? Who knows but figured it could possibly come across someone who needed it and that would make it all worthwhile.

AubrieAnne said...

Yeah! I joined! I think the group was a great idea!

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