For me, as I imagine for others, one of the hardest parts about the death of a loved one is that life goes on.
I remember walking to work a couple of weeks after my dad died and wondering how the sun could shine. Although the circumstances of my mother’s death were different (see Grief in the Twilight Zone), I’m still amazed and sometimes even resentful that life is going on, not just for family and friends, but for me too. I feel in some ways that time has stopped, but at the same time, my life is moving forward – I’m working on projects, making plans, living my customary day-to-day life.
Underneath it all, though, is a deep sadness (and I make a distinction here – not depression, but sadness). I grieve the death of my mother and the losses that came before her death. Even during a recent weekend, joyously celebrating my nephew’s wedding, I was aware of this underlying sadness. It wasn’t that my mom would have been there, since her condition made that unlikely, but that she could have been there if things had been different in the years before her death.
In a way, I wish it were still customary to wear mourning. It was a visible, immediate signal to the world that one had suffered a loss, that life had changed, that grief was present.
But as my cousin says, we deal with loss every day – the loss of a promotion at work, the loss of a cancer-free body, even the loss of some small object that symbolizes something for us. If everyone grieving a loss wore mourning, we would all be in black.
I know that grief ebbs and flows and that the sadness won’t always be so intense and present. For now, though, I am figuratively wearing a black armband.