Written by Suzanne Smith
Recently I faced the daunting task of planning a funeral for my Father. A man, who in my world was larger than life. An honored WWII veteran and loving Husband, Dad to 4 daughters and Pap-pap to 17 grandkids.
How to do honor to a life well lived? With Love and of course flowers. This would be an integral part of the memorial.
The funeral business is just that, a Business. A good funeral director will show the family options and rules for their state and religious beliefs and be aware of the needs of the families left to deal with such a momentous life event that needs to be handled with compassion, yet in a short amount of time.
As a floral designers, it is a part of our services to be aware of customs and flowers that can be a comfort to the families of the dear departed. This is an evolving segment of the floral industry. Whether the mourners ask for a simple heartfelt bouquet or a family requests a huge standing spray, it is our duty to provide the finest flowers for this final tribute with reverence and respect.
Sadly, I have seen some florists empty their coolers of the less than perfect blooms for funerals. In a display of tributes from the same local areas shops and studios, you can pick these out easily, and the reaction of the families can be angry disgust that makes them look for that shops name and not trust them further for future needs. So have these florists really saved with this practice? I’d say the harm can be long lasting.
In recent years the “In Lieu of Flowers” practice has been the bane of many shops existence. And, the pricing of many tributes can be quite high…Funeral work should be designed with the same care as a wedding, with the freshest and most beautiful blooms. It is, after all, a FINAL tribute. I would ask yourself if this was your loved one, would you feel proud of the design you are setting in front of the family?
Are floral tributes a thing of the past?
We see people flocking to the scene of accidents and graves with floral tributes and candles, in some way to honor a life and make that persons memory last just a bit longer. In this fast paced high tech world, Flowers still express Love, tears, prayers and wishes. The use of flowers for tributes can be traced back to the Neanderthals, who used Flowers and petals in their ancient burials. It is in our DNA to regard flowers as a sign of love and reverence.
Flowers are still the most closely held cross cultural tribute to the dead
In my area of California, I have a cross section of cultures and beliefs. So asking what colors and flowers are most meaningful, should be a part of the consultation, be it in person or on the phone. Additionally, offering the client personal touches can take the basic floral tribute a cut above.
Was the person an avid sportsman, a gardener, musician or a dancer? Did the departed live for NASCAR or the Steelers? Adding a touch of tasteful whimsy can bring a smile to those left behind. These are the tributes that may be taken back to a reception or wake. It gets conversations started of fun times and endearing stories. It can be a memory that helps in the grief and healing process. As florists, we should never forget the part we play in these life events.
We have an obligation to represent our industry and art with respect and the finest quality. It is the lack of these virtues that the media grabs on to and runs with. They say that florists are not important in the scheme of things and will always site the few stinkers rather than praise the talented and reverent among us. Don’t feed their cause… Make every design that crosses your door a statement, whether a simple bud vase or a lavish casket spray. Leave them speechless with the beauty and awe of an amazing arrangement.
As a personal note, my Dad LOVED flowers, he loved Italian Opera, he loved his family and country. His services were beautiful and the floral tributes were so numerous and beautiful that the Chapel (who does not allow flowers in the altar area for final services ) made an exception and allowed us to place three beautiful fall designs in front with candles and filled the Nave all the way to the curb with flowers.
The graveside services were a mix of Military honors and religious rites, and in final tribute every person, young and old place one long stem rose of Love on the casket until the “love overflowed”.
Flowers are more than just flowers; they are the very essence of a human life…
“We are born, grow, bloom and fade, yet the beauty and joy we have given in this process is never forgotten”