How can we honor our daughter who died in our other daughter's upcoming wedding without making that the focus?

Question:
Our daughter is getting married soon and this magnifies the reality that our daughter who died will not be there. We want to do something that remembers her in the wedding ceremony, but we also don't want that to be the focus either. Some ideas we had were to have our youngest daughter hold two bouquets of flowers or have a stool or chair with flowers on it. Do you know what has been done before or what you may think would be appropriate?

I wish I could say everything is going fine, but I can't. The pain is as strong and real as the day of the accident three years ago.

Answer:
It makes sense to say that everything is not "fine," but I am sad to hear that you would say that the pain is as strong and real as the day of the accident. I would wish for you some healing so that the pain would certainly still be there but not be as acute—that it would not have as much power over your thoughts and emotions as it did before. I think as parents sometimes there is a decision to be made to allow grief to lessen its hold on us. Our grief is what keeps us feeling close to our child and we don't want to let go of that closeness. It feels like a betrayal to our child who died to begin to not give so much of our emotion to our grief, but that feeling is not telling us the truth. And at some point we have to turn our full attention to those who are living around us and need our love and health.

I think your ideas are so sweet and lovely for remembering your daughter in the wedding. It would seem to me that the only key in doing this "right" is that the bride is the one driving how this is done, and that while you daughter gets remembered, the bride senses that your primary emotions and energy that day are directed toward her—the one who deserves your full attention on that special day. She is the one who can be most blessed by your joy and focus on that day. The hard reality is that your daughter can't benefit from it. And you don't really want the conversation amongst those who attend to focus on that sadness but on the bride and groom's joy. That will be a special day to invest in the living who can benefit and enjoy your loving attention. I hope it will be a beautiful day of great joy. I know there will be someone missing and that takes away from every special family event. But I hope you can take in the joy and let the sorrow go on vacation for a day.