Thursday, 25 August 2011

Saying it with flowers

My much-loved aunt and godmother died a couple of weeks ago, and the family's request was for immediate family flowers only, but donations to a particular charity would be welcome.

I know I'm probably in a minority, but I always think this is very sad. Flowers are the last thing I can give to (for) my aunt, and a charitable donation just isn't the same. Like everyone else, we give donations to charity, but on this occasion I want to give something just for her; something that shows what she meant to me; and a donation to charity simply isn't the same. Many people think that flowers are a waste of money on these occasions, but if it's my money, and if I want to "waste" it, then surely it's up to me?

When my husband died 19 years ago, we had masses of flowers. His grave was entirely obscured by all the flowers people sent, and I found them both beautiful and comforting. When my mother died, once again, we had flowers, and because she was being cremated, family and friends took the flowers home with them afterwards. On both occasions, there was the opportunity for donations to charity instead, if people wished, but it's interesting how many people really wanted to give flowers. It's the last thing people can do for the person who had died, and it seems a shame to deny them that opportunity.

My aunt's immediate family have been very understanding, and I'm allowed to send flowers for her. And when it comes to my turn, I want lots!


  1. When my husband died 1 3/4 years ago, I was so grateful for the people at the gardener's who did a beautiful flower display on the top of the coffin for the funeral service. I could not afford to spend a huge amount of money, but they did so well, and it looked so perfect in Steve's favourite colours. Of course, I could say "it was their job, I paid for the flowers, so why feel gratitude?" and yet I did, because it did not look at all cheapskate-ish or shabby.
    Most of the people who came to the funeral and gave me cards had put money inside the cards, which was indeed very welcome, but I also received some flowers, and my mother-in-law had sent flowers for Steve (she could not travel to Germany for the service because of her health) but also some very beautiful ones with a card that said these were just for me, something I found very touching from her.

  2. I do think it seems a bit of a waste to buy funeral flowers and usually make a donation myself. But if buying flowers brings even a little comfort at a difficult time, then doing so isn't really wasteful - and as you say, it's your money and your choice.

  3. When my mother died, we had all of her favorite flowers and I ordered gardenia corsages for each of her four sisters, to wear and take home afterwards. It was as though they had been to one last dance party together.

  4. Frances, so sorry to hear about the loss of your aunt. :(

    I was brought up with a mom who taught me that if I only have R10 left in the world I must spend R5 on food and R5 on flowers...the first to feed my body, the second to feed my soul.

    So sending a beautiful bunch of fresh flowers is my choice, although I'd send a donation as well, if one was asked for. Even though the flowers fade and die over time, that's kind of a symbolic comfort too. (Death comes to all living things; it's part of the cycle)

    Judy, South Africa

  5. Sad to hear about your aunt/godmother, Frances. Have to agree about the flowers, although it's probably good when both options are allowed since many will prefer to give a donation.

    I've never thought about it in relation to myself (yet!) but, yes, I'd like to think there were lots of flowers.

  6. Librarian - I'm so sorry about your husband; so recent, too. But lovely about the flowers.

    Patsy, I suppose in a way all flowers a a bit of a waste since they last for such a short time and are so expensive, but there's something about them...

    English Rider, what a lovely idea!

    Judy, your mother sounds lovely! If I'm ever wealthy* enough, I'll get truckloads of flowers delivered to the house every week, (and of course give thousands to charity, too!).
    *In spite of my recent post (below) this is unlikley to happen!

    Rosemary, I'm glad you agree. And yes. I think both options should be available (though I think hte donations to charitything must be relatively recent?).

  7. I do agree with you. The problem with charitable donations in place of things that "are a waste of money" is that the definition of what is a waste of money is being provided by a third party. When the dreadful time comes everyone at the pub can have a free drink on me, which no doubt is a waste of money.

  8. Thanks, Alan. I think you put that very well. And drinks are never a waste of money!