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When my mother died a little while ago the house was innundated with flowers, most of them lilies, being the flower associated with funerals and death. I have to say I am not a great fan of lilies to begin with, and a houseful tends to get on the nose. As DH said one day when he walked through the door- ” did someone burn plastic in here?”

Perhaps they make a good metaphor for life and death, as they start looking strong and vibrant, but when they die they don’t dry and fade, they rot. Fast. Usually leaving a few stains for good measure.

So while I was mourning surrounded by floral tributes to decay and death, I really appreciated 2 wonderful bouquets I received from mum’s friends which made a far better tribute to the passing of a beautiful life, with not a lily among them.

The first was an amazing bunch of long-stemmed pink roses from a friend who runs a florist that specialises in roses (here’s a plug, they are wonderful). They smelled (or smelt? the dictionary seems to think either or) glorious, and lasted a long time, slowly fading away. Their soft beauty was a real token of life’s transience, in an uplifting way.

The other beautiful bouquet came about 3 months later, excellent timing in fact. When Mum died it was so busy packing up her things, planning the funeral, talking and corresponding with people, staying upright, that I didn’t have much time to be really sad. It hits you a while later when everything settles and you realise that the ‘event’ is over but you now have to live with this hole inside you for the rest of your life. So these delicate hydrangeas were a gentle breathe of relief.

Needless to say, if someone you love dies, I sure as hell won’t be sending you any stinky lilies