Why do we no longer wear mourning clothes? Why can’t we, like Queen Victoria, have an outward sign for others to know that we are still grieving?
When you suffer a loss, it often hits hardest three to four weeks after the death. Why? Because that is when the realisation sets in that this is how it will be from now on. And because by then those around you have moved on with their lives.
People are uncomfortable with other people’s grief. They can respond appropriately in the immediate aftermath but weeks later they can find it difficult to know how to react to someone still in pain.
Of course, those grieving often don’t help themselves. Not wanting to make others uncomfortable, they act as if nothing has happened, that everything is normal.
But it did happen. And nothing is normal. In fact, nothing will be as it was ever again.
When Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria went into mourning. She dressed in black and continued to wear black until her death in 1901. Her mourning clothes were a constant reminder to others that she had suffered a great loss that would always be with her.
Unfortunately, there is now no obvious way to indicate to those around us that we are still suffering.
In the absence of a mourning outfit, I offer the following:
Just because the funeral is over, please do not forget that I am still grieving and I may need you.
If I am laughing and joking with you, it is because sometimes I need to remind myself that there will still be joy.
If I am arguing loudly with you about a topic, it is because it stops me from screaming.
If I ask you casually, “So, do you want to meet up for a coffee?”, what I’m really saying is, “I need to be with someone doing something so I don’t crawl into bed for the rest of the day.” Please be there for me if you possibly can because it is more than just coffee to me.
If I seem to be getting on with life, it is because I know it makes you uncomfortable to see me sad all the time so I act ‘normal’ to make it easier for you.
I may look to have it all together but inside I am broken and while I may eventually heal, the scars will always remain.
Please be patient. This will take time.