In Victorian times, and beyond, the grieving wore black for a year after their loss. In fact, they were expected to do so. I think that even without that custom and more’, we would gravitate toward dressing in dark, dull and drab colors. After all, in those early days, weeks and months, our spirits are just crushed and our worlds appear dim. We don’t really see much color in our world.
As for the custom of dressing in black for the first year? I don’t think anyone grieving should be shoved into doing anything they don’t want to do, but the idea behind it may have some merit. We know about the year of firsts, as we go through the first of each of the holidays, special occasions, and anniversaries. Black wardrobes during that difficult year of firsts served as a reminder to others to be a little more considerate, a little more thoughtful and tender toward the griever.
All that being said, we also know that grief doesn’t look the same on any two people; it’s a very personal experience. Hard and fast rule and the judgment that goes with them? Neither is very helpful and isn’t that the point? To help the one suffering in grief?
So here’s what I think. I think, in fact I know, the day will come that you start seeing color in your world again, hopefully, sooner rather than later. It’s quite literally a brightening of how you see things, and it’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it. When that happens, and believe that it will, it’s time to make a conscious effort to add color back into your wardrobe, too.
Start with what you have in your closet. Are there blouses and tops in favorite shades that you haven’t worn for a while? Make a point of reaching for those again when you get dressed. In fact, make a special effort to wear something cheerful on rainy days. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how your mood lifts. Discard or give away anything, any color in your closet that you don’t feel good in. Remember, this is a form of grief therapy. It’s not wasteful, it’s healthy! Somebody else can wear that shade of greige that makes you look grim.
The next step is to seek some additions to your closet rainbow. Look for the hues you know are becoming, the ones people always tell you are good on you. Next, go beyond those colors. Did you avoid wearing green because your husband hated it? Maybe it reminded him of his rival football team or a co-worker he didn’t like, but you love it? Now’s the time to give it a shot!
Find out whether yours is a warm or cool complexion and hair if you don’t know for sure. Whether within those two categories you look better in soft or bold shades. Try on colors you have never worn before. Take a friend shopping with you and get some feedback. If you’re feeling really brave, try on some red! There’s a shade of red for everyone; it’s just a matter of finding which one is your red. Find your colors and then wear them!
Two things will happen when you do. You will find that the more cheerful shades will elevate your spirits and that interactions with other people will be lighter, more cheerful too. Friends, people around you won’t even be conscious of why they smile when they see you, but they will. Maybe it’s because, subconsciously, they see you are doing better and they are pleased about it, but there will be a subtle shift. There will be a subtle shift everywhere you look, and you’ll be all the brighter for it.
Bring on the rainbow!
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