Now I would not want to go back to those times, of strict, stifling social mores, of staying "at home" and not going anywhere, except for church, or of wearing dull materials or a long black veil. But currently, as I'm grieving the loss of my youngest brother Craig Cameron Reed, I find myself longing for just a little of this custom. For me, what I'm wearing, if it were black or purple, would be an outward expression of my inward feelings. It would explain, without words, why I am not cheerful nowadays, and why my facial expression is somber, my mouth downturned. Wearing black would help me, and others, recognize that I have suffered a profound loss, and that I need to give myself time to grieve.
For instance, it would be nice, going into the local grocery store, if what I'm wearing could be an outward signal. Perhaps the clerk could look at me and just say, "I'm sorry", instead of a chirpy, "Have a wonderful day!" At church, where I am still a newcomer (having moved to this community only two months ago), it would be nice to have people inquire sympathetically about my loss and how it's affected me.
Wearing black does not have the same connotation any more. It's very common for professional women to wear black slacks and a jacket. I wear black or dark blue slacks quite often, especially when I'm meeting with a client, or doing a library presentation. In today's society, clothes of whatever color or style are taken for granted (teenagers in pajama pants, anyone?), so wearing black or other dark colors isn't worth a second glance.
So I think, for the next few days or weeks, I will be wearing black, dark blue or purple intentionally. It can be a signal to myself that I am grieving, and to give myself time and space, and lots of rest, to come through it. Outward appearances do convey a message, even if it's only to myself.