If you’ve ever suffered the misfortune of losing a loved one as well as witnessing a friend experience loss, then you’ll know that grief looks very different on different people. Although scientists such as Barbara Fane have revealed that individuals experiencing grief suffer from a similar disruption to the following brain areas, the outcome can vary. After losing someone the parasympathetic nervous system is impacted, resulting in insomnia and shallow breath. The effect on the prefrontal cortex/frontal lobe can impact your ability to express your emotions. The impact on the limbic system, can cause you to be easily triggered by things that remind you of your lost one. Whilst experiencing this biological onslaught, after losing someone, many people put their appearance to the back of their mind. However, as our contributing beauty writer Alysha Yates recounts, relief may come in the form of your beauty routine.
My mother would always dress herself in red. Her toenails gleamed with a glossy merlot finish come rain or shine. In a reoccurring six-week effort to mask her relentless greys, she’d blitz intruders with her favourite semi-permanent dye, Crazy Colour- Fire. When she discovered my Sleek eyeshadow palettes, her request never wavered, “red with a little smoke on the sides.” Of all the ways she’d wear red, nothing served her better than sporting her signature scarlet smile.
So when I lost my mother in 2015 to the beast that is breast cancer, I couldn’t look at red the same for a while. My memories of overturned bloody dye bottles and dwindled lidless lipstick applicators brought me nothing but instant flashbacks of what I had lost.
Days after she passed, at each family gathering, I’d be swarmed by sympathetic apologies and faces filled with commissary for what could not be helped. With each pat on my back, I grew to fear the pain of my mother’s memory, serving only as a reminder for the unnerving fact that I’d no longer see her bright red smile again.
Nevertheless, I had already agreed to write my mother’s eulogy for her funeral. I had run out of words while trying to finish writing and I decided to search for inspiration. I sat knee deep in photo albums, flicking through images of my mother, wadding my way through years of her life, buried in her memory. Hour after hour went by and I found myself with her again. She was aged 20 at a party, posed arm in arm with a best friend, both with matching classic square red manicures. Aged 25 on her wedding day, lips deep scarlet pursed and pouted for a glamorous flick. She was aged 36, hair tinted and aflame, head down styling one of her clients at her hair salon.
Tears met my lips as I surrendered to her vivid red memories and I felt her with me once again. Fond memories rushed back and gave me the comfort I needed as I saw how attached my mother had been to this colour, how she would always endeavour to express herself throughout her life with these red accents.
At her funeral, we wore red rose brooches and our lips beamed a deep raspberry red. My mum loved to wear a mix of MAC’s Rebel with Russian Red. On that day, we brought her memory to life. Now, as her 4th year anniversary approaches, I soothe my grief by wearing red and my most treasured way of remembering her is by embracing a beauty routine that reflects my mother in spirit.