Recently friends of mine lost their Mom/Grandma, and I experienced the confusion first-hand that many feel when encountering ‘in lieu of flowers’ in the announcement of the memorial service.
I just read a great blog post that put in words what I was struggling to even understand.
In ‘Quiet Ambassadors of Love’, Jennifer Sparks quotes a note from a funeral director’s wife:
“Quiet ambassadors of love, flowers, yes, flowers. As a funeral director’s wife I have had the honor of standing by others in times of loss and grief. When confusion and pain run so deep, words are intrusive and unwelcome. When hearts are too full for anything except flowers. They stand in their place and tell those who are left, we love them. We are thinking about them right at this moment in time. We care deeply.”
So how do you decide to move forward to express care when a charity donation is requested?
If you know the family well, you might call to share condolences, share your desire to send something to the service, and ask if it would be ok to do both.
Many times the ‘in lieu of flowers’ is added in the midst of grief without the opportunity to reflect on how soothing to the heart the flowers may be. On the other hand some people feel strongly and have deep convictions.
The funeral director’s wife goes on to say, “Can you see? Can you hear? Ambassadors of a Godly sort sent from hearts of love to hurting people everywhere…even at the end of our journey, letting the living know how much we care. The flowers are in memory, but they are for the living! So send flowers as often as you are able and know they will reflect your love and care, especially to a funeral home. The saddest thing I have ever witnessed is a funeral without so much as a tiny bud vase whispering ‘someone cares.’”
And Jennifer goes on to say, “I share Bobbie’s sentiments wholeheartedly. Not because I work for the floral industry but because I have experienced and seen the power of flowers at the lowest points in people’s lives. They do bring comfort to the heart of remembrance, they do add warmth to an otherwise cold and somber environment, and they do provide a beautiful diversion to focus on at a time when words are few.
“Research shows that flowers increase feelings of compassion, and people feel less depressed, anxious and agitated in their presence. Such compelling research shows flowers can play a critical role in the bereavement process.”
I appreciate so much people who put in words what I am having trouble articulating, and more deeply so when the emotions are so deep, tangled, and uncomfortable. Thank you, Jennifer!
Another option is to give a charity gift and include a note about that in your card sent with the flowers, whether to the service, or to the family at their home. Some will wait to send the flowers to the home for a week or so, knowing that the grief doesn’t end when extended family go home, and wanting to communicate care and love over time.
More tips and thoughts about sympathy flowers here