Flowers have been displayed at the time of one's passing in nearly every culture throughout time, and their importance continues today. At funerals, wakes, memorials, and cremation services, flowers and plants are a sensitive way to commemorate the life of the departed, express heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved family, and provide an important element of natural beauty in an otherwise somber environment. Family and friends often comment on the artistry, color, and fragrance of sympathy flowers, helping to aide conversation and soften the sorrow. An outpouring of flowers or a particularly striking floral tribute may be remembered long after the funeral as one of the most uplifting symbols of support. In the weeks that follow, flowers, gift baskets, and other expressions sent to the home are also important, as family members adjust to their grief. If you would like to express your sympathy to someone but are unsure what types of flowers or other gestures may best fit the situation, here are a few suggestions from experts to help.
Showing You Care
The most important consideration is to show you care, for the deceased, the bereaved family, and other loved ones who will be gathered. Flowers are one critical component, because they show tribute and honor to the life of the deceased. When considering what type of sympathy flowers may be most appropriate, consider that life. Bright flowers may be best to describe a fruitful life and convey the joy of fondest memories. Pale pastels are appropriate for a soft, feminine touch, while Autumn tones convey a more masculine theme. Pure white blossoms denote purity, grace, and peace. Roses, especially red ones, express undying love.
Making It Personal
If you'd like to personalize your tribute even more, your local florist can help. You might consider incorporating a favorite flower, personal item, or picture of the family. For someone who loved gardening, you might consider a gathering basket of garden fresh flowers with a just-picked look. For someone of faith, you might prefer a cross, Madonna, or other icon. Funeral flowers can be designed in all kinds of shapes and sizes, including insignias and sports items, as well as more traditional wreaths and sprays. Of course, flowers aren't the only way to show you care. Other gestures are important as well. Providing dinner for the family some evening can be so helpful, especially for families including children or elderly. A thoughtful letter, informal outing, or contribution to a favorite charity are excellent options, too. These additional gestures compliment the thoughtfulness of your sympathy flowers, adding an extra personal touch that will be greatly appreciated.
Knowing How Much to Spend
The cost of funerals is steadily increasing. Fortunately, there are flowers for almost every budget. You can express yourself eloquently with something as simple as a single perfect rose, as economical as a modest mixed arrangement, or as striking as a grande standing spray of elegant roses and lilies. For gifts to the funeral home or memorial service, fresh flower arrangements in vases and fan-shaped sympathy designs are usually best, because they provide the most impact for your money. Sympathy flowers come in a broad range of sizes and price ranges. The choice is up to you, but remember there may be other floral tributes displayed in close proximity. So, you don't want to skimp on size. For a nice table arrangement, plan on spending about $50 to $70, with fancier styles running $75 and up. For a larger standing piece, $100 to $150 is common. For gifts to the home, both flowers and plant are popular, with prices typically in the $35 to $60 range.
What about "in lieu of flowers?"
At the suggestion of well-meaning friends or advisors, families sometimes include a phrase in the obituary announcement such as, "In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to..." Of course, most families sincerely appreciate all personal expressions of support and may later regret having too few flowers at the funeral. A more appropriate phrase for many might be, "In addition to flowers..." or simply, "Contributions appreciated to..." Use your best judgement, but keep in mind that the "in lieu of" terminology is usually intended to encourage charitable gifts rather than discourage other expressions. Tasteful sympathy flowers are almost always appropriate in addition to charitable giving.
I didn't find out until after the funeral!
Even if you didn't know about the funeral until after it was over, you can still convey your love and respect. Family members need your thoughts, prayers, and personal expressions long after the funeral is over. Flowers and other gestures are a sensitive and appropriate way to let them know that they are not alone. After all, one of the best ways to honor those who have passed is to support those they have left behind.
Are there other ways that I can help?
The best thing you can do is to let family members know that you care. Help with meals, provide child care, drop by with a gift or card, or simply call. Everyone responds to loss differently, but reaching out reminds people they're not alone. You're care may help distract them from their grief allowing an easier transition into a normal routine. In other words, just being there is the best thing you can do to help.