Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Color of Bereavement

There is a song that Frank Sinatra used to sing titled, "Looking at the World Through Rose-Colored Glasses". If you're like me, you eagerly look forward to those times when everything looks rosy and pleasant. But we all realize that life has a multitude of glasses that we must look through. They could be grey when life seems to be just a collection of tasks that don't seem to lead anywhere. They could be orange when you see excitement, drive and purpose in your life. They might even be slightly hazy when you are looking at the past with fond remembrances.

But lately, I've experienced the world through bereavement-colored glasses. These glasses are unique, and I was surprised by them. If you have ever looked through a Kaleidoscope, you have seen mirrors and bits of colored items (some broken, some shiny) that form a geometric stained glass effect. This is what these glasses look like to me. Not gray for complete mourning, not yellow for happiness, and not rosy for deep love, but a mixture of all colors.

My Grandpa Swayze died on October 17th, 2011. At first the color of life darkened and was clouded with tears. The sharp corners of reality combined with greys, blues, and black of grief made a design that was painful to look at, but it echoed my heart. But, the glasses were turned and colors "fell", creating an entirely different effect. Remembrances that are so sweet, you can't help but smile at the warmth of the memory. Hour by hour in that first week, the design shifted; bringing smiles, sighs and tears in its way.

Life seemed to slow down and crawl for those first few days. My heart ached as I recalled precious times and the finality hit me. Why was the world going on as it always had? Why didn't it care that my grandfather was gone, he couldn't come back and my life would never be the same again? Then it hit me: Who else is having the same experience through grief? I'm not the only one in the world that is going through this. My eyes have been opened with this strange pair of glasses that show me that my grief is not the only one, nor my last one.

This pair of glasses will always be around, although sometimes they will be pale and almost invisible. Other times they will become as vivid as the day of the funeral. Although Grandpa is not the first loved one I've lost, the fact that I'm older lets me see differently and more clearly. I'm grateful that I can see color through these glasses, but some days I just wish for a pair of rose-colored glasses, for times gone by, and a good bear hug from my grandpa.

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