The Colour of Pain

Today, as I recover from gum surgery, I found myself thinking for the first time about the colour of pain. I think I would have viewed mental pain as being black and physical pain as red.

But this evening, as the sun was going down, I took a tiny stroll in the garden and was captivated by the way in which the light was playing with the withering pink hydrangeas that live just inside our gate.


Withering, like pain, has very negative connotations but I glimpsed a beauty in the very heart of the withering and it was like a wave of soothing balm.

My pain is nothing compared to what so many people have to endure and I can’t but think of the soldiers in World War One as well as those in all the horrible, horrible wars before and since. How have they coped with what seems beyond endurable pain?

The resilience of humankind is extraordinary and I don’t think anyone will ever fully  understand it.

That moment with the mingling of green and pink with a sliver of gold among the hydrangeas, however, made me think that hope, just the softest glimmer of hope, may well lie at the core of human courage and resistance.

Tonight, I send these soft colours of hope to everyone in the world who is battling pain, especially pain that is chronic and has been grinding away for years.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

30 thoughts on “The Colour of Pain”

  1. I hope tomorrow is a better day for you. Last year young Daniel suffered the most horrendous pain. I cannot imagine it as a colour. When he came home for his last few days they had to get an anaesthetist to approve his pain medication, as they had never before sent a child home from crumlin on such strong medication. It took the two nurses just over one hour to set it up. When I feel pain now, I think of young Dan.
    That being said, pain is far from easy, so i hope you will recover quickly.

    1. Tric, thanks for writing. It’s difficult to imagine the pain that young Dan must have endured. It’s one thing to witness someone else’s pain and to experience it oneself. With kids and older people, especially, I always wish that I could take their pain and try and cope with it for them.

  2. If lepers felt pain, they’d have more fingers and toes. To them, pain would be a blessing as they’d be able to feel that knife before it sliced their flesh, or that stone before they kicked it too hard.
    That being said, I’ve no idea how people live with constant pain that they know will never go away until they die.
    But none of what I’m saying helps you one bit, Jean, as pain is all-consuming to the person suffering from it, and gum/tooth pain is extremely nasty. I do hope you will soon be able to eat well and smile without wincing.

  3. So sorry you are in pain Jean. I have gum surgery no long ago and it was miserable!!
    I recall as a young child I was given whiskey to numb my gums when I had toothache. …. I hated the taste of it ever since.
    But it may be an option for now followed by some soothing ice-cream.
    Hope it heals quickly!
    Val x

  4. I remember having wisdom teeth out years ago. It was winter in the upper midwest and a blizzard blew in later in the day. I went out walking in the bitter cold and wind because the cold felt good on my painful jaw. So, I am the second vote for white (snow white) pain. Best wishes for your recovery —

  5. Ugh, mouth pain is terrible – my face swelled to double the size at the beginning of the year with a root canal problem. There are levels of pain, but the one we’re facing at the time always seems unendurable to us, even though it might not be as bad as someone else’s. But you’ve made a lovely post out of your pain Jean, hope you’re better soon.

  6. Well said and recognised Jean – I hope that, nine days on (on the anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings), it’s a bit easier. Lovely hydrangea pic. Did you know we have a Hydrangea Avenue in Jersey, planted along its length with….hydrangeas?

    1. Roy, thanks for writing. I was listening to people talking about the Birmingham pub bombings on BBC 5 Live last night and it was so, so vivid and poignant.

      No, I didn’t know about Hydrangea Avenue in Jersey, Whereabouts is it in relation to St. Helier?

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