Since Metallica is pretty particular about their ownership rights (which, as rock gods, they should be), this isn’t titled Fade to Black. And it’s not really about the black anyway, it’s about the gray. It’s amazing how color plays such a strong role in our feelings: green with envy; got the blues; seeing red. I was trying to explain to my sisters the other day what life has been like since Dan died. On that morning my entire universe faded to gray as if all color died with him. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where I see spots of color. There have even been a few days where I lived almost an entire day in color. But they have been overshadowed by the many more that faded to black or just hung out in gray.
I think this is the part that makes people so uncomfortable with grief…the seemingly endless gray. Lighting a match will conquer the black. This is what we are trained to do. In the blackness I will rally and bake you a f@#%ng casserole and do your laundry and mow the lawn. But the gray…just hangs around like a bad fog. How do we fix it? How do we help the person stuck in the gray? You don’t. I will repeat–YOU DON’T. All you can do is be there and bear witness to their pain. Don’t tell them to go to grief counseling. Don’t tell them to choose happy. Your well-intended advice ends up telling the grieving widow who is in survival mode that she isn’t good enough. That she isn’t trying hard enough. That on top of everything else she’s suffering she has now earned your disappointment and she is making YOU uncomfortable. As if it were about you. Don’t tell her ANYTHING except that you are proud of her. That’s right. Proud. Try it. I’m proud of you for getting out of bed today. I’m proud of you for putting on fresh pjs. I’m proud of you for leaving the house. I’m proud of you for choosing to continue breathing when everything in your soul is convincing you that you died that day too. Proud.
Gray is hard. Gray is slow. Gray is heavy. And gray is very lonely. Don’t let her be alone in the gray.