Sunday, March 21, 2010

Planning to Remember

At the end of our most recent Pittsburgh trip, I was in the midst of a floral meeting (which was successful, FINALLY), when the florist asked me if we'd need corsages for our mothers. I replied that we'd need only one, and then felt sort of awkwardly compelled to explain that Mr. Octopus's mom passed away a few months ago.

The florist, a kind and motherly type of woman, was very sympathetic. I would think that in her line of work, she has to navigate through these types of situations a lot. She gave me some thoughtful recommendations for how to pull off the lighting of the unity candle, and then we moved on to boutonnieres.

But the thought stuck in my mind: Oh, right. The unity candle. Which the two mothers are supposed to light together. Except we won't have two mothers there now.

And then, later, MOH/Sister Lauren asked me what we were planning to do about the parent-child dances. Oh, right. The father-daughter dance, which I very much want to do. And the mother-son dance, which Mr. O very much wanted to do. I have no idea.

When Mr. O and I started planning our wedding, finding meaningful ways to honor a deceased parent (and negotiate the issues surrounding their absence), was something we never, ever, ever anticipated having to do. It also wasn't something we thought much about when we decided, after her sudden passing, that the wedding was still on. We just knew that we, along with everyone else, still wanted it to happen, so we went for it.

But now, as we continue planning, the logistical things (like the unity candle and the parent-child dances) keep coming up, and we kind of have no idea how to handle them. I've been turning some of the more emotional aspects over in my head, too. Mr. Octopus's mom isn't the only loss we've ever experienced, but it's the most recent, and in terms of the emotional impact, the biggest. Is it appropriate to call more attention to her, to remember her in a more noticeable way, than, say, his grandparents (who died of old age many years ago)? Is it okay to play favorites, so to speak, with the people whose legacies you're remembering?

On the other hand, I worry about how much memorializing is too much. By the time our wedding rolls around, it will have been eight months since my groom's mom died. Although Mr. O and his family are coping well and feeling better, I'm certain that by no means could we expect that anyone, including him, will be totally recovered from their grief in September. How do you strike a balance between wanting to remember her, but not evoking flashbacks to her funeral? When do tributes turn from respectful to painful?

He and I have been talking about some of this stuff, but we're both really at a bit of a loss. There's no predicting how anyone will feel six months from now, so we're not sure how to proceed. So, I'm hoping there are people out there who can share their experiences. What did you do to remember the people you've lost at your wedding?

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