Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Color of Grief

I never thought about grief as a color before but I’m beginning to feel that it is. The degree of grief, or perhaps the nature, seems to affect the hue but I feel confident in saying that the color of grief is gray.

The grief that I experienced during our move, grief over leaving a home, friends, and lifestyle that I really enjoyed, was almost transparent. Pearl gray shimmered like the fog in a valley on a spring morning. And like the fog, that grief moved to cover only a particular thing at a particular time, passing away quickly. It’s presence was almost unnoticed.

The grief of our failed closing and the wait that followed was a smoke gray. Unlike the fog I described previously, this grief was greasy and it hung on everything. Think of the stain left behind after a smoker, or group of smokers leaves a room. The texture and look of everything in the room changes. Or the damage that is done at the top of a wall even after the least destructive house fire. The evidence of the fire remains behind in a stain, difficult to hide and impossible to remove without replacing all it covers. The uncertainty of each day and of our future, in a limited way, were being determined by someone else and I felt the loss of control and the slipping away of a dream in each moment of the day. It wasn’t a choking grief, but the physical presence, that greasy gray, was constantly with me.

The grief I’m feeling with the loss of our dog is an ocean gray. Rolling and powerful, I look hopefully at every door and window. I pray for his safe return and I listen for his bark. It’s been more than 24 hours. It’s below freezing outside. It’s been snowing off and on. I pray that he’s with a family in a warm house. I wonder why no one has called the number on his tag. My thoughts stray to the darker parts of the gray waves, pulled there by the current that would suck me under. I fight to stay in the weak sunlight that is available.

I’m reminded of a dream that my foreign exchange student had about me during her stay last year. She came to breakfast upset and told me she’d dreamed that one of my children had died and that I hadn’t cried. I wondered about that dream. I wondered if I were really the frozen mother in her dream or if, rather, I would feel the loss of a child in a way that robbed me of any feeling. As an accident victim is often protected from the true pain of an injury by the body’s amazing ability to compensate and cover pain would my mind work to keep me from feeling the true depth and nature of my loss. I wondered if I would be leveled by the death of a child or I’d not feel anything. Maybe something in between or maybe both. I still don’t know. I don’t even want to imagine how dark and powerful that gray of grief would be.

And so, in this gray, this rolling gray, I continue to pray and hope and gasp for air. In my head, I know that a dog is a dog. In my heart, I know that this dog is a member of our family and that his loss is just as real and as valid as the loss of any loved one.


  1. There is a shade of gray that drifts in and out of here because you aren't two and a half hours away anymore. I miss you all and I am praying Buckeye will come home.

  2. ((Moonbeam)) Praying for your heart to feel light and vibrant colors and for the safe return of your beloved pooch.