Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors often receives questions regarding flowers for funerals – read on to find out more
Freeman Brothers has been carrying out funerals in Sussex and Surrey since 1855. As we have been so long established as Funeral Directors, we have a good sense of some of the most common questions people have around funerals. Taking feedback from colleagues in Horsham, Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint as to what we are asked frequently, we have produced a series of blog posts addressing some of these issues.
Today, we will be looking at some of the questions that we are very often asked around floristry – what is possible and available, whether we can recommend a florist and what we can suggest can be done with the flowers after the funeral service.
As with other factors around a funeral, decisions regarding flowers are a personal choice. Once it would have been normal for most people to send flowers and for there to have been several tributes at every funeral. However, this practice has decreased with the rise in popularity of making charitable donations in lieu of flowers, and so it is now more usual to have fewer tributes or perhaps even to suggest there is only one, which represents everyone close to the person who has died. Moreover, this is not the case for everyone and, while some people tell us they view flowers as a waste, others see them as a way to have something bright on the day or an opportunity for mourners to show they are thinking of the person who has died.
If the funeral is a burial, the flowers will typically stay in the grave once the plot has been ‘made good’. However, may be harder to decide what should happen to flowers if the funeral is a cremation. As a default, the flowers remain at the crematorium until the staff there decide they are past their prime and then they will be disposed of. This may seem sad or wasteful and families often ask us about possible alternatives to this.
The first of these is to consider whether there is a place where they could be placed which is meaningful. For example, was someone else in the family buried, or is there an ashes plot where the tributes could be placed? We will be happy to deliver the flowers there for you if practical and providing we are given sufficient information. You might prefer to lay the flowers yourselves, though, or it may not be feasible for us to assist in this way, but we can still help by bringing the flowers back to our offices so you don’t have to return to the crematorium, or by helping you place them in your vehicle.
You might like to think of people who have attended a funeral taking a flower away as a memento of the day. The design of the tribute can assist, here – a loose sheaf of long-stemmed, single-headed blooms will be easy to separate. Gerberas, which come in a variety of colours, would be a good suggestion for this, and a fine wire inserted into the stem preserves them indefinitely. Roses don’t last long, but are another choice, particularly because of their associations with love. Remember that thorns should be removed! Another approach to this idea is to commission a tribute made of small potted plants. This can be deconstructed at the end of the service and everyone has a pot to take away. This is also a good idea where the person who died didn’t enjoy cut flowers, which is something we are occasionally told.
It may also be there are other obvious destinations for the flowers – if the person who has died had a connection to a home, hospice, or hospital, they may be willing to accept them. This should be checked, rather than assumed, though, and might depend on what the arrangement looks like and the availability of someone to arrange them. Tributes where the flowers are secured using oasis may not be suitable as the stems tend to be trimmed and may then be too short for vases, so it might be practical to choose a spray of flowers. Freeman Brothers always tries to find out whether there are any places which will accept flowers – at the time of writing, we know of a hospital whose mortuary’s viewing room will gladly accept them – but we would continue to advise that donations of flowers may not always be possible.
We are often asked to recommend a florist and sometimes to organise the flowers ourselves. As with other services of this type, the best recommendation is previous good experience. This is one reason why we don’t offer this service ourselves in-house (even if we did obtain the flowers for you, we would use a local florist) – we would never want you to feel obliged to use our service if you have someone you know and are comfortable with. We will offer recommendations but always suggest that you ask what any firm can offer and assess how well it meets your needs.
Florists are well used to working to briefs in different ways, and will be happy to either give you a likely cost for your desired arrangement or to advise what they are able to provide for your budget. Some florists are more traditional, others more modern, but the best firms will work to your preferences and adapt their style accordingly. Florists can suggest particular flowers to suit and, because they are creative people, are usually very good at interpreting themes given to them by people with less knowledge than they have themselves – they will typically understand what is wanted when given words like ‘bright’, ‘soft’, or ‘Spring’. Don’t be afraid to discuss how costs can be reduced – seasonal flowers are usually more economical, and sprays can often be enlarged with beautiful greenery which, while less costly, is still very attractive.
It should be noted that everything above doesn’t just apply to flowers themselves, but tributes generally. We have seen beautiful arrangements featuring vegetables for a keen gardener, and even a display featuring the musical instrument of the person who has died. Anything goes and the only limit is your imagination, and the skill of the florist.
Some people wish to provide flowers themselves. We have seen many beautiful and personal tributes created by families using garden flowers, or those bought direct from a nursery or supermarket. Obviously this does mean another task to be competed with the rest of the funeral arrangements – and there is the need to factor in their delivery on the day of the funeral. We would caution against placing too much pressure on yourself, but it is a lovely idea if you feel able. In one case, a family decorated the coffin with paper flowers that everyone had sat and made together. Again, this does need someone to have the imagination to see the possibility. If you have a family friend with floristry experience, perhaps they might assist you – people are always looking for ways that they can be of meaningful help when someone has died.
An increasing number of funerals are taking place with no floral tributes at all, particularly if there is no formal service and the person who has died is having a ‘cremation only’ funeral. Also, some people simply do not enjoy flowers and prefer not to have them. There is nothing wrong with this approach at all. As with any choices, we simply ask that your wishes are conveyed to us so that we can meet your expectations and ensure we can communicate your preference to anyone who enquires.
If there are any further questions about flowers, or any other aspect of our services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Tel: 01403 254590
If you have an urgent query, please call 01403 254590. This number is answered by one our staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the quickest way to reach us.
Tel: 01403 785133
25 & 27 Brighton Road
Tel: 01293 540000
126 High Street
Tel: 01273 831497