Sad fact—as the years go by, there are more wakes and funerals to attend. Increasingly, we have been recognizing the passings of friends and relatives, or supporting our friends and relatives in their losses. Acknowledging death is just another part of living, but it’s not one of my favorite things; in fact, after each one, my husband and I reaffirm our intentions to have a big party and nothing else.
Very often, there is one element consistently missing at such gatherings—flowers. In almost every case, you’ll see a line something like this in the obit—“in lieu of flowers, donations to such-and-such-a-foundation will be gratefully accepted.” This makes sense in so many ways. Charitable organizations win and flowers aren’t wasted. Also, one of the big issues with funeral flowers is that they are often so tacky; instead of nice, simple bouquets, you have big wreaths and other awkward configurations—maybe even the clichéd horseshoes of gangster flicks.
Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised a few months ago, when I read the words “she prefers flowers….she wants lots of flowers for her ceremonies,” in an email regarding a friend’s sister. I called the best florist in town and figured out an elegant bouquet that both my friend would enjoy and her sister might have liked. I also brought a bunch of bulbs with me, for my friend to plant in her sister’s memory. At the wake, we walked around and looked at all the arrangements and read the cards; it was something positive to do.
Another way to handle it is to have plants that can later be put in the ground. I did this on another occasion, using full, colorful mixed pots and hanging baskets that I later enjoyed for the rest of the summer. Guests took some of the smaller pots home.
In spite of the abuses, I still think flowers have a place.