On Feeling Like a Different Color (A Metaphor about Grief)
About a year and a half ago, someone very close to me passed away in an unexpected and traumatic way. In the months since then, there’s been a lot more to grieve. I’ve lost more family members (and a pet too) than in the first 30+ years of my life combined.
Grief went from a feeling I’d only loosely experienced to one that I felt in a very specific, persistent way. There have been moments when I felt like I’d never fully bounce back. A lot of things have helped: art (in particular doing crafty things with friends), spending time in nature, exercise, cuddling my cats, THERAPY.
Learning how to deal with grief of this magnitude has been a new experience for me. I think I’ve coped in a way that’s healthy for me. I’ve become much more aware of how grateful I am for my own life and the people in it, but it’s also felt like I’m grieving a lost version of myself. As though I used to be a bright shade of orchid, but grief was slowly mixing in gray, turning me into a duller version of myself. I felt like I would never get back to the brightness.
But then I realized something that was hugely helpful. While I’ll never stop being sad about the people I’ve lost, I’ve done everything I can to honor how much I love them. I’ve expanded my life by learning new skills to deal with the grief. I haven’t become gray - I have mixed in a different color altogether, maybe something sort of blue. I’m a few shades different than I was before, but it’s not necessarily grayer - it’s just different and I’m trying to make it beautiful in its own way.
So that’s the metaphor. It gives me a helpful visual of how I’ll never be the same but I’ll still live as expressively and fully as I did before, and maybe this new color will suit me better. I will never ever be able to bring anyone back, or return to my life as it was, but I can look forward to a life that feels like a different color altogether.
(While I’m sharing metaphors, this ball-and-box analogy has also helped me a ton.)