Bring Back the Mourning Wreath

By Amy Cunningham

The Atlantic Monthly ran a wonderful article several years ago on the merits of Victorian mourning ritual which suggested that maybe the Victorians-- with their black garments, arm bands, hair jewelry, and oil portraits of deceased children hanging in the home--weren't so crazy after all.  Grief is the same separate continent today (as it was back then), so maybe it's a good idea to publicly announce that you're living on it.

Which brings us to the mourning wreath--right there on your own front door after a death in the family. Why not? Some people today have privacy concerns; many are hesitant to even announce a birth. But three of the families I've helped with funerals in recent years have proudly placed a mourning wreath front and center, and they've all told me it was helpful in navigating the strange, spongy quality of life after a death, the membrane between inner and outer.

You and your favorite florist can collaborate on what kind of wreath expresses what you want to announce. The flowers do not have to be dark or painted black. They can be white as snow.

Interior designer Valorie Hart placed a Victorian mourning wreath on her front door after her beloved husband's death.

Interior designer Valorie Hart placed a Victorian mourning wreath on her front door after her beloved husband's death.

Lily mourning wreath from Widowstrength shop on Etsy.com
Lily mourning wreath from Widowstrength shop on Etsy.com