My mother says that she remembers a time when women who were widows wore black for one year and then purple during the second year. It might be truer to say she remembers people saying that’s what people did, but nevertheless, it’s a tradition that is lost for us.
And please, don’t for a second think that I am in any way advocating a return to this practice.
A black dress or arm band, worn to indicate a period of mourning benefits both the mourners and the people they encounter. If someone has his leg in a cast and is getting by with crutches we tend to be more accommodating and patient. We will hold a door open or carry their groceries to the car for them. We will show them the kindness they deserve, given their current circumstance.
The pain of someone who mourns is not so obvious; it is not typically accompanied by crutches or a large plaster cast. Yet, if we had some way of knowing that someone is hurting in this way we would surely show them the kindness they deserve, given their current circumstance.
For the last little while I have been hurting because of my Dad’s illness and death. I have had the privilege of sharing this with you, the people of St. Paul’s Church, and you have shown me great kindness and patience, given the circumstances. Not everyone in our community has this opportunity yet they are hurting as much or more than me.
The only advice that I can think to offer is; really mean it when you ask someone how they are doing. Don’t expect a “fine.” And just as importantly; when someone asks how you are doing, really answer them. Say, “fine” if you are fine, and not if you are not. I can say from personal experience, the people of this Church will come through and be supportive of people’s pain. And, I might add, wanting to share in one another’s joy too.