Sunday, 15 January 2017

Don't say it with flowers...

....say it with words. This came to me the other day, as I approach the 25th anniversary of my husband's death;  the realisation that "saying it with flowers" can be a cop out. Flowers are lovely, but they can also be used as an alternative to words people don't know how to say (I've done it myself).

When my husband died, we were inundated with flowers, and they were beautiful. But I can't remember who sent them. What I do remember is the brave people who came to our house, not knowing what state we were in (terrible), and listened, and hugged us and wept with us.

I remember in particular one couple I didn't really know well, and didn't especially count as friends. But they came straight away, and I remember how courageous and thoughtful I thought they were. Because it does take courage to confront someone else's tragedy; it is hard to know what to say. But say it anyway. That's what I've learnt. Say it with words.

11 comments:

  1. While I do send flowers to my mother-in-law each year for the anniversary of my husband's death (because I know she loves flowers very much), I also speak with her on the ohone regularly. We talk about her late husband and mine, but also about books and cats and politics. So in this case, the flowers are not to substitute words, but to enhance them.



    Yes, people are often unsure what to say in the face of tragedy. But actually there isn't such a thing as "the right thing" to say, or the wrong. Wrong is only not to be in touch at all.

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    1. I have no objection to flowers per se - in fact I love them. But I do think they can be sent instead of a visit. I agree that there isn't s right thing to say, but just saying "I don't know what to say" can be enough. A close friend phoned that day and just cried with me on the phone; it was what I needed (oddly).

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  2. I agree with what Librarian says - flowers have a place (I love receiving them) but not as a substitute for human contact. My Christmas present from my mum for the last few years has been a beautiful bouquet every month. A very special present but I still speak to and see her regularly.

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    1. How lovely of your mum, Wendy. But that's not quite what I mean. And you do speak often.

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  3. Thoughtful post, Frances - I think there's a place for both.

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary. I think you're right.

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  4. I agree. Time is the best gift you can give.

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  5. I once worked in an office with a lot of men, and had two pieces of very bad news close together. Most people didn't know what to say - which meant some avoided me.

    One man came and placed a bar of chocolate on my desk and walked away again.

    He didn't say anything, but that small gesture acknowledging that I was upset and showing he wasn't ignoring me meant a lot.

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  6. I send flowers frequently to friends usually on the spur of the moment but never as a substitute for a letter or a call in case of a tragedy. For me flowers are happy things for happy times. One of my deepest and most enduring friendships arose from a letter from an acquaintance received after the death of my mother in 2002. I still have the letter and words that I will treasure for ever. However unless I know the person well I do find the 'right' words hard to come by when tragedy strikes and after I've sent the letter (living so far from most of my life's friends a visit is often impractical) I often wonder how those words have been received.

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