When my Dad passed away two years ago, one of the things I found very therapeutic was shopping for and choosing my mourning outfits. To me, dressing for an occasion is a profound way of marking it’s importance. Beauty heals, there is no doubt about it. We dress up for graduations, weddings, job interviews, hot dates. Why wouldn’t I meticulously plan my outfit to honor my Dad’s magnificent life?
I knew I wanted to look sleek, chic, and sensual. I ended up purchasing a sheer, spaghetti strap, floor length black dress. I slipped into it the night before the funeral and padded downstairs to get my Mom and sister’s opinions. As I got to the bottom of the stairs, my mom’s eyes widened.
“That’s waaaaay too much skin to show at church,” she said with knee jerk disapproval. I disagreed, but she was adamant. In that moment I had a choice to make. I could:
Option #1: Stomp my foot and clench my fists like it’s 1993, bringing us all back to the beginnings of my teenage religious rebellion.
Option #2: Solemnly utter an “ok Mom”, place my beautiful dress back on the hanger and just get over it because you are not supposed to challenge your poor Mom after such a traumatic event.
Option #3: Tell my friggin’ truth.
My truth in that moment was:
- I am a grown woman, and I know myself.
- When I feel sexy and embodied, I revel in all the pleasure that is available to me, even in deep grief.
- There is nothing wrong with showing skin in church, because my body is my church.
I relayed my truth to my Mom with my head held high, and my bare shoulders proudly rolled back. She understood immediately and withdrew her knee jerk reaction. I went into that day feeling strangely like a bride, marrying the mystery of life and death, love and loss. I know my Dad would have been proud of me, because I showed up completely, wholly, unapologetically as myself.