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Wearing white (or black) when we commiserate with someone in their grief is just a man-made convention. Being with them matters more than what you wear!
Just before getting ready for office, my daughter came up to me and asked,”Do you have something in white?”
For a moment, I did not understand her question. But immediately, I remembered that her friend’s father had passed away two days earlier, and she had to go to the prayer meet today.
I was taken aback at the suddenness of the query and realised that I had never considered how I had put my thoughts on to my children. It was a moment of revelation for me.
Even after I told her that it was alright to wear her regular clothes, she didn’t agree. She also rejected a white kurta with an orange panel in the front. Though she did find what she wanted to, it set me thinking about how these norms have made their place in our day to day life. How white is taken to be a colour of mourning in our culture.
To me, white is an all encompassing colour, with the capacity to absorb all the other colours. It is said to signify purity and peace. On the other hand, white is worn at weddings in other cultures, and black is kept aside for mourning.
How have we as humans defined these things as something immutable, that we do not even realize the significance or the importance of these things.
This also brings me to the next important factor, and that is, why isn’t death a celebration?
Death is the one surety, right from the moment one is born. We are slowly moving towards that ultimate destination, moment by moment. Death is the most significant part of life, and yet, we seem to treat it fear and ignorance.
I have always felt this, and I practice the same too.
It does not matter what colour you wear when you are going to offer your condolences. What matters is how present you are – if you are with the bereaved in their grief, your presence is enough. In times like these, words are also misfit. Just being there gives the message that, “Yes! I am with you in these moments.”
Grief doesn’t finish with the prayer meet. It goes on and one should remember to call up and talk afterwards. I always like to mention the five stages of grief and having had my share on various occasions, I can count the people on my fingers who were there for me throughout.
And I would like to be that person for the others in my life. Someone who could be counted on the fingers. Wear yourself and not the colour.
Image source: pexels
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