they say black is the colour of death

thinking about Ash Wednesday and Lent today. i love this season. i did a spotlight search on my computer for ‘black’ (just wondering what inspiration is lurking in the subconscious memory of my computer) and this came up. I wrote it a couple of years ago when i was writing for Seasons of the Spirit Christian Education curriculum. I used to write the material for 15-18 year olds – this was a week that focussed on lament.

[i should have said, when i put this up yesterday, that one of the great things about the Seasons curriculum is its use of art. The material for each season includes posters of different artworks which are then used throughout the curriculum. One of the pieces for this particular season was Kandinsky’s Composition VII… which makes a bit more sense of the reflection…]


They say black is the colour of death

Are they colour blind?
I drown in a sea of red rage in the moment I remember you died
I sink into green when I just can’t forget.

The scream that catches in my throat is coloured magenta, but when it
fades to sobbing, it’s lavender; and sometimes,
just sometimes
I am surrounded by an aqua coloured calmness.

The exhaustion can only be pale yellow, the panic is crimson,
resignation is the exact shade of the mist that rises over the river just after sunrise

(don’t be seduced. It’s not as romantic as it looks.

It’s just nothingness)

I wish black were the colour of death.
Black goes with everything.
You can put it on every day and it always matches.
There’d be no need to colour co-ordinate. No need
to explain the ridiculous colour clashes
‘Why did you ever imagine that the pink denial you’re wearing today
would go with that yellow hysteria?’

I wish I were a computer screen, that I could change from millions and millions of colours to black and white.

Instead, today, I’ll be living with the gaudyness and garishness of grief that refuses to be grayscale

or better yet, a watermark.


  1. Thanks Cheryl,

    I’ve wrote something on death last month and I’ve been trying to get another piece written on death and theology. I think it is a wonderful subject. More on that later.. I really like this piece though.. SOS has gone downhill since you were writing.

    Death is so much more than the physical loss of a life. It is the loss of ideas, the failure of a concept to deliver on expectations, it is the death of an opportunity. yes death lingers and intervenes. It is an essential part of our life cycle…

  2. Nate Custer


    I just got this IM from a youth worker friend of mine:

    Josh: i had kid at ****** pass away today
    prayers are appreciated
    also any resources for grief, would also be great

    I sent him this page, he said it was exactly what he needed. Thanks not just for writing this, but also for sharing it publicly.


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