In Australia, chrysanthemums are the iconic symbol of Mother’s Day and are popular gifts. Chrysanthemums predate Christianity. They have been growing in China for 2500 years. It wasn’t until the early nineteenth century, when plants were imported and hybridised in the UK that the rest of the world came to appreciate their qualities. Colours range from white to pink, purple, yellow, bronze and everything in between. The flowers are long lasting cut flowers that can easily look good for up to three weeks in a vase.

Curiously, chrysanthemums played a part in the final days of our son’s life. Adam came to stay with us over Easter. We sensed his inner struggle. We sensed his pain as he tried to make sense of recent events in his life. Our concern ran deep but sometimes it is confusing to know what course to take. Adam left us early Saturday morning. We heard him up and about and the sounds of his Toyota Hilux as he drove away. We were apprehensive. We doubted his ability to work through his issues. Help seeking is not something that comes naturally to 30 year old men. They are more likely to act impulsively, to resolve the issue somehow.

In times of confusion and despair you need to do something. We chose to go to the Australian Chrysanthemum Championships Show at the Bendigo Exhibition Centre. The outing provided a diversion, a reflective space where we could begin to process our thoughts and feelings. If we are honest, we were trying to hang on to hope, to believe that our son would be OK.

The chrysanthemum has been Japan’s national flower for the past 100 years and is a symbol of happiness and longevity.

This is surely the prayer of every mother that their child might prosper. Tragically many sons and daughters are unable to negotiate the challenges and stresses of life. They are simply overwhelmed.

Author: Bruce Rickard

Reflections on Suicide and Staying Alive: My son's suicide changed everything. I felt an obligation to understand why anyone would want to end their life. My regular blog posts explore the causes and prevalence of suicide and what is needed to sustain a healthy mind and a hope-filled future.

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