Celebrating Mother’s Day after a loss can be hard. Two things that help: children and flowers.
I can still see the lilies-of-the-valley that surrounded my grandparents’ small patio. They would pop up around the stepping stones every year, announcing the arrival of spring. Many Mother’s Days were spent on that patio enjoying a family dinner; only rain would chase us inside.
Although it’s been years now since my grandmother passed away, those flowers will always bloom in my mind’s eye when Mother’s Day is on the horizon. The thought of them reminds me of how love, laughter and family defined the day.
Time changes things. Those who were a part of our younger years may no longer be with us—but the day still arrives, and each of us will remember. We will think of those special women in our lives who helped to shape us. They may not be our biological mothers, but instead a stepmother, a best friend’s mom, a beloved teacher or boss.
Some of us will simply reflect upon them quietly at home; others will take time to visit their mothers and grandmothers at a cemetery or other meaningful place.
It can be hard, sometimes, to know exactly how to commune with the mothers we miss.
When I speak with those who have lost a parent, they often state that others expect them to have “gotten over” their loss within a span of months and cannot understand why they are still grieving. My response is always the same: You have had your parent in your life since the beginning. They have always, or nearly always, been a part of your life, and months are not enough time to adjust to no longer having them in your world.
How can we best honor a mother’s memory? Those of us fortunate enough to have grown up with loving parents know that they wanted the best for us, and they did the best they could to be there for us. So here’s one answer: Now it’s our turn to do the same for our children, our nieces, nephews and those other kids who enter our lives.
Mother’s Day is a day dedicated to honoring our mothers and grandmothers—not just for who they are and who they were, but for who they made us. It’s a day to reflect upon childhood and to think of times spent with our own kids. It does not matter who we spend the day with, it matters who we have shared our lives with.
Give thanks for those women who loved us. Give thanks for those children whose lives we have positively impacted. Give thanks for those moments long ago.
Me? I will be spending some time on Mother’s Day planting lilies-of-the-valley at my new home, knowing that every year when they bloom, my grandmother will be with me still.
Flowers to Honor Mothers
For thousands of years, cultures around the world have attributed special meanings to different flowers. Flowers remain an important part of how we communicate today, whether we’re bringing Mom a bouquet on Mother’s Day, wooing a significant other with roses or choosing a flower arrangement for a loved one’s funeral.
Here’s a beginner’s guide to what’s symbolized by some of the most popular blossoms Americans use to honor their mothers’ memories.
- Azaleas: womanhood and rebirth.
- Camellias: longevity and gratitude.
- Carnations: a mother’s enduring love.
- Gladiolus: integrity and strength of character.
- Hydrangea: heartfelt sincerity.
- Lavender: devotion and virtue.
- Pink roses: appreciation.
- Sage: wisdom.
Read more about the meaning of flowers.
Legacy.com contributor Nancy Weil is the author of “If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might” as well as a cemetery grief support director and a certified funeral celebrant. Her company, The Laugh Academy, offers a variety of therapeutic laughter and grief support programs.