The Little Black Dress of Grief

August 10, 2021

As I pick through my closet I see it, the little black dress. The one that hangs hidden in the back of my closet, similar to my most agonizing grief. The dress that was chosen through denial and heartbreak. The dress that was worn to say my final goodbye, the one worn to bury my mother. 

The dress that now sits in my closet constantly signifying death and loss. It doesn’t get worn for anything else. It stays tucked away. It stays in the back, covered by clothes that have no sentimental meaning, surrounded by clothes that don’t hurt to look at or bring back debilitating pain. My little black dress. 

The dress of loss. 

The dress of pain.

The dress of denial and confusion.

The dress of haunting memories.

The dress of finality and a funeral. 

Do you have one? A dress or outfit you were forced to purchase out of necessity and not desire? A dress that you can no longer look at? One you can’t bear to wear again? A dress that is just as dark as the moments you wore it. 

I tucked mine away waiting until I need it again, but hoping not to see its presence unless I had to. Today it caught my eye and I sat there staring at that dress paralyzed by the delicate movements that it made. It covered the grief-stricken shell of a person. It covered my brokenness and my raw wounds. It covered the fragile first moments of my grief. 

The little black dress with a different meaning and purpose than the ones that hang in my friends’ closets. The little black dress that buried my mother and carried the body and soul of a woman who became motherless. 

The little black dress, cloth as dark as my grief and emotion, hanging as still as my breath when I see it. The little black dress of grief.

xox, Chels

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2 responses to “The Little Black Dress of Grief”

  1. Hailey says:

    When I got the call it was the middle of the night. My moms Covid advanced fast and she went into the hospital Friday evening. That next morning at 3am I got the call. I threw on my favorite tanktop and leggings, and drove faster than I care to admit. Everything happend in less than 24 hours.

    I wore the tanktop on the worst day of my life. I wore it when I decided to turn off the ventilator and say goodbye to my mom. I wore it when I climbed on top of her lifeless body and screamed a scream nobody should ever have to hear come from another human. I thought it was just me.

    I finally worked up the courage to wear it this past week, and I’ve worn it twice now. It’ll be a year on September 19th. At this point, it’s the thing I was wearing when I last held my moms hand and I think I needed that now. Her birthday is Friday.

    Thank you for making me feel less crazy about my anxiety surrounding an article of clothing. I’m sorry you’re going through this too.

    • chelseaohlemiller says:

      Hailey, thank you so much for reading my work. I can assure you that you are not crazy, nor alone, in this grief journey. It’s a complex and complicated path that is unique to each person. I pray you continue to find hope and encouragement on my page. xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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