Possible reasons relate to it association with ash and willow – well known weeping trees – but the most likely reason relate to the black veil on the upper stem and the way in which the ripe head oozes droplets. It is indeed a wonder that the idea of bereavement can be transferred to nature – that a simple and common woodland mushroom like Lacrymaria velutina can form such a natural metaphor in the minds of our ancestors.
Perhaps we have lost some of the symbolism of widowhood – not the tears, they remain – but the wearing of black, the sense that loss should be displayed physically and the idea of personified respect for what has gone. Maybe too this is for the better – perhaps the black veil and weeds are rightly in our past? The idea that life goes on and that, especially for women, it can continue without the prop of a partner is central to modern understanding. We no long need the veiled remembrance of the juggernaut. Women share rather than join and their life does not end – even metaphorically – with the death of a husband.
The idea of the black, veiled widow is an anachronism and, like our weeping widow mushroom, unpalatable!