The color of grief

Weariness and dissatisfaction with life that results from a loss of interest or sense of excitement.

Sadness felt at the imperfect state of the world, especially at the behavior of human beings.

One of these words describes grief. Or perhaps both of them do.

They certainly describe yesterday, the first year anniversary of my dad’s death.

It didn’t effect me, really. Just a leadenness, and the realization that there were green spots in my eyes from staring at my office wall. Just that nothing on a long list of things I have to do got done. Just that grief for me has always been about weariness and sadness, not about anger or tears.

My sister Toy took the anger and tears approach. In some ways she is almost immobilized it hurts so much. Me? I can still go through the motions.

I don’t know how it affects my other sister, Joy. She was estranged from dad when he died, and has remained estranged from the family ever since. None of us have even spoken to her. Well, I take that back. I’ve spoken to her answering machine. But what does she feel? And what did she do?

I wish I knew.

My mom is perhaps the healthiest of us all. She grieves with transparent pain, missing him more I’m sure than any of us. At least her pain is transparent to us, but not to the people from her church to whom she still presents the persona of preacher’s wife: a practiced cheerfulness, a gracious spirit, a compassionate heart. She cries mostly alone, and mostly at night.

I wonder how this day affected my children, or my sisters’ children. Did my sons remember the commitment they made then, to read Scripture more, or to be more like their grandpa, generous and compassionate men of faith. Did my daughter reflect on the difference between the faith he lived and preached and the one she now follows?

Did anybody remember? I think so. The church he pastored dedicated the sanctuary in his name. And they were so very kind to my mom. They gave a book of remembrance to mom, to Toy and to me. They each had their own memories this week.

But did anyone else see green spots? Or feel the sadness of an imperfect world, where siblings still squabble, and bitterness and pride threaten to swallow us up? Was anyone else weary of the world in which his smile no longer warms us? And his voice no longer comforts us?

I hope so. And then again, I hope not.

Ennui comes through the French from the same word from which we get odious. And annoy. Weltschmertz is German, obviously. Literally the pain of the world. I understand their origins better than I understand their causes. But I’m learning.

And I’m learning the color of grief, too.

It’s green.

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