When my cousin lost their only child, I experienced firsthand, the burden of bereavement. The parents felt as though life had exhausted them. The mother was so overwhelmed a deluge of emotions, she just stared at the visitors. Choosing the right gift and the right words were an enormous challenge. But I knew you could never go wrong with sympathy flowers.
The custom of presenting flowers at funerals and memorial services has a strong and long history. History records show that as far as 2,500 BC, the Egyptians used flower arrangements for decorations, funeral processions, and anniversary gifts. But above all presenting sympathy flowers is one of man’s oldest homages to the dead.
In 1951, Dr. Ralph Solecki discovered several burial sites which revealed that flowers were placed beside the dead. These burial sites were said to be about 62,000 years old. Very few customs have lasted such a long time.
So why are flowers considered perfect grieving gifts? Below are five good reasons:
1. Flowers Are A Symbol Of Life’s Cycle
Some people say that sighting flowers during mourning reinforces their grief. Why should someone who has just lost a loved one be given another beautiful flower which will also die in a few days’ time? They ask.
The gift of flowers at funerals or during grief periods symbolizes the fragility of life and its temporal beauty.
The fact that flowers die is a fact of life as is death. The receiving of flowers during our grieving periods should help us realize that death is a part of life and not a nightmare. The gorgeous sympathy flowers give you something beautiful and soothing to savor as you adjust to the situation.
2. Flowers Express Our Feelings
Consoling the bereaved is one of the toughest tasks you can embark upon. It is particularly hard because very few know exactly how someone who has just lost a loved one feels at that particular moment. It is hard to put sympathetic feelings into words. But flowers can adequately convey your message and intentions.
When presenting a flower arrangement, you need not speak a word. When you send a floral tribute to a memorial service the meaning is always understood and appreciated by the bereaved.
Flowers are a way to share the burden of grief and loss and are also a symbol of community support for a life well lived.
3. Flowers Are Time-Based Gifts
There are some experiences that are so beautiful that you will want to bottle it up and enjoy them over and over again. The loss of a loved one is not one of those. There are some memories I can still recall from the funeral of my father-in-law. One of the most memorable contains a picture of his casket lying in state amidst rows and rows of flowers. The beauty of those colorful, scented flowers has stayed with me all these years.
Many individuals prefer to avoid funerals and other memorial services because those occasions are often sad, emotional, and they are not sure of the best way to behave at such places. Worse still, they aren’t sure of the appropriate gift to present.
Grieving periods burden the heart with ineffable feelings of loss and anguish. It is not an enjoyable feeling and experience. One of the biggest benefits of sending flowers is that they are beautiful and represent your presence on the day of the funeral.
For the bereaved, there is no need to be reminded of this sense of loss each time they see your gift. Flowers play their role on a particular occasion and then they are gone.
Have you ever thought about giving a bereaved person a gift that he does not like or want? The discomfort that this person will be subjected to is prolonged if the gift is one that lasts longer. Flowers are perfect gifts because, like it or not, it goes away after some time.
4. Emotional Support For The Family
Gifting flowers is a nice and profound way to let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts. Flowers are beautiful and particularly comforting and their fragrance and splendor are truly healing.
When my father-in-law died, some family members called and expressed their sympathy verbally and asked us to let them know if we needed anything. There were a lot of things to be done and we needed help no matter how little.
If only they had just done something, it would have made a world of difference. My husband and I felt awkward about the idea of going about cap-in-hand, seeking assistance.
The person or persons who sent roses by post, did not ask us before they sent them. But those flowers were very helpful in innumerable ways. Not only did were comforting, they gave us the strength and fortitude we needed to carry on with our lives.
Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam writes creative non-fiction and prose fiction. Her works have appeared in Romance Meets Life, Flash Fiction Press, MTLS, Saraba Magazine, Sentinel Magazine and others. Her first novel, Finding Love Again, was published by Ankara Press. She owns and manages Creative Writing News.