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In Lieu of Flowers Is An Affront To The Living

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Oct 17, 2019

Suggesting donations 'in lieu of flowers' for a funeral is an affront to the living. Sending flowers is an expression that helps the living grieve, a fundraiser does not. Better wording; "In addition to flowers, cards or expressions of care, donations can be made to..."

I tweeted this the other day. While it was received quite well, Twitter inevitably finds someone who will disagree. 

e.g.,

"Wildly self serving tweet advising others how to deal with loss"
 
and my reply. My role as a florist has bestowed that responsibility upon me. The 'Emotional Impact of Flowers' studies by Rutgers and Harvard offers proof that flowers given and received help the grieving process. Thank you for your feedback.
RED SEA
 
 
 

Tags: Rutgers Floral Study, Twitter, Harvard Research Team Floral Study, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers, In Lieu of Flowers

The Trouble With Asking “In Lieu of Flowers”

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Mar 27, 2017

When a loved one passes away, it is a trying time for all family and friends to grieve for their loss.  The ceremonies following the death can be unbearably stressful for those who must make the arrangements such as burial, cremation and funeral services and can result in conflict between relatives regarding how the process should be run.  Since we all come from a multitude of different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and preferences, appeasing everyone can be extremely difficult when executing a proper memorial.


One issue that seems to be a popular conflict is whether or not to include flowers in the ritual.  Two reasons why a funeral often rejects the acceptance is because some feel gifting a basket of blooms is unnecessary or others believe a small token should be instead given to the charity of the family’s choice.  Supporting the financial administration of non-profit organization in memory of those who have past is a sweet idea but did you know that only 5% of people in attendance actually donate to the cause at all?  It’s human nature to want to do something for those in pain, particularly during a time of mourning but what we’re missing here is the actual event of gathering supporters and comforting one another.  

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Eliminating flowers from the funeral procession can actually work against family and guests as well as substantiate a cold and negative platform- a message that most hosts do not want to encourage.  Allowing visitors to add bright colors of blooms in baskets, vases and other memorial pieces boosts a feeling of soothing and solace instead of the rigidity of simply placing a casket in the middle of the room.  The shock of this can also be alarming to many people who are anxious in this type of situation thus permitting them to send flowers can be a wonderful way to ease discomfort.  Places where funerals occur are generally dark and gloomy places so integrating arrangements that elevate joy and cheerfulness is an excellent strategy to make the occasion easier for all to experience.

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If you’re wondering what appropriate floral pieces might be, look over these beautiful examples of proper blossom etiquette when enduring the loss of a loved one.


Funeral Wreaths are usually covered with varieties such as roses and carnations and are typically placed right next to the casket and moved to the gravesite for the burial.  



Casket Covers are designed to be long and flat and can consist of whatever flowers you prefer although lilies, roses and hydrangea seem to be the most popular.  Customarily, guests will take a single stem from the display and place it over the casket as a sentiment to the deceased.


Memorial arrangements can be similar to everyday bouquets in vases and range from pastel mixtures to bright pops of color.  Pieces are usually sent to the funeral home and displayed in the lobby for the wake and moved later for the actual funeral.  

Tags: Sympathy Flowers, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers, Whitney Houston

Flowers, Death and Dying During the Victorian Era

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 30, 2016

Attending a funeral is a trial and tribulation for most because of the task of having to say goodbye to a loved one.  Being from Boston, I’ve attended a wide variety of different events honoring the dead and have learned about hundreds of different ways to celebrate and grieve over the loss of friends and family.  Boston is a melting pot for different traditions and customs, which is why it’s such a wonderful place to live.  You might think it was always this way but in actuality, funeral processions were administered in a very specific way back in Victorian Times.  After researching this topic a bit, I was a little surprised by the rigidness of the occasion and the strict template that grievers were expected to follow.  While we typically choose traditions that exemplify the celebration of one’s life, in other times, this wasn’t always the case.  Take a look at these fascinating rites and rituals associated with Victorian funerals and the rules you were meant to follow.   

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  1. When a person died, people were asked to stop their clocks at the exact time of death and not restart them until after the funeral.  This made attending anything on time in the next 3-4 days nearing impossible!
  2. Wreaths were hung on the outside of doors usually constructed out of laurel leaf and decorated with a black ribbon.  Veils were also hung on mirrors to both block the corpse’s spirit from escaping through the glass and to deny death an entryway into the house.
  3. “Waking” did not start off as the predecessor event for funerals as it does here back in Victorian times.  While we usually hold this occasion for friends and family to view the body in privacy, waking was originally termed to mean the body had to be watched in a home until the actual funeral was held.  It was popular belief that the spirit could escape if not watched twenty-four hours a day before burial.
  4. Flowers and candles are usually thought of as enhancements for funerals but back in the day, they were utilized to block putrid scents of decaying flesh.  The smell of a three-day-old corpse could be so stagnant that flowers and aromatic candles were placed around the body to mask some of the odor.
  5. Kids usually think that “Saved By The Bell” means you’re let off the hook in a due to the distraction of a school bell but really, the term was coined to alert caretakers of a premature guest in a coffin!  Yup, a bell was placed on top of coffins to signal a person who hadn’t really died but was instead sick or in a coma.  It was their luckiest day of their life if they woke up in time and could make enough movement to sound the alarm above.  

Tags: Sympathy Flowers, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers, Victorian Era

Popular Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

Flowers are a customary tradition when planning a funeral and are often one of the happier highlights to the event because of their ability to soothe onlookers with their beauty and aroma.  Quite often, you’ll notice arrangements in baskets given by friends and family, pulpit arrangements and of course, the casket covers designed in a variety of different ways.  Sometimes relatives decide to have flower arrangements reflect a personality trait or a favorite color and other times there is a religious connection to the selected blooms.  Florists also have their favorites, which are often an assortment of chrysanthemums, roses and lilies.  One reason is due to their easy, availability from wholesalers year round and the second relies on the symbolic meaning they reflect when utilized in funeral pieces.

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Certain blossoms hold certain meanings when it comes to funerals and each can represent a particular thought, feeling or sentiment that grievers wish to express.  If you’ve never heard of this practice than you’ll want to learn more about the flowers your sending and the messages they’re conveying!  Here is a list of the most popular varieties of funeral flowers used in the northeast and their meaning when implemented on this occasion.  

 

Roses

Roses are the single most requested variety used in funeral pieces because they’re large enough to take up space, strong enough to last most temperatures for the duration of the occasion, highly fragrant and have a unique meaning according to each shade chosen.  Yellow is typically the sign for friendship while pink pays homage to remembrance and kindness.  Red is probably the most universal for funerals because it symbolizes grief and love and white transcribes as purity, innocence and everlasting bonds.

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Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums (or otherwise known as spider mums and pom poms) are the oldest variety connected with funeral flowers with the exception of roses.  As they are usually relatively inexpensive, they have a substantial head that allows designers to easily create casket covers and other larger pieces for the ceremony or gravesite.  These flowers also hold a strong significance within many religions and emphasize the idea of “rebirth” and “heaven” in many cultures around the world.

 

Lilies

When it comes to funerals, lilies have a bad wrap and it’s mainly due to its pungent smell that can fill an entire room.  Wildly popular with undertakers and funeral directors, these star-like flowers make a grand presence because of their size and shape as well as emit a reflection of “grace” and “angelica”.  The bloom also holds a direct connection to the Christian religion where it is believed that grievers filled the Virgin Mary’s tomb with pure white stems of lilies.  Unfortunately, many people link the flower’s appearance and scent to death and are sometimes rejected by those who become upset by the association.    

Tags: Language of Flowers, Sympathy Flowers, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers, Flower Meanings

Elvis Presley's Funeral Flowers

Posted by Rick Canale on Wed, Jan 08, 2014

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Do you remember where you were when Elvis died ? I do. I was only six years old and my family was pulling into the parking lot at the Cape Ann Marina in Gloucester to go on our boat. Even this six year remembers how huge a shock that was. Of course, a new generation will think of Michael Jackson's death. I was picking up a pizza at Bertucci's in Brookline when I heard that news. When a King dies, the world takes notice. 

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More than 50,000 fans walked more than a mile to pay tribute to Elvis on his funeral on August 18th, 1977. Thousands of these fans left with flowers obtained from the more than 3000 floral arrangements sent to pay tribute to the King of Rock n Roll. That is not a typo. Elvis's funeral had more than 3000 floral arrangements !

Elvis' funeral flowers remind us how important flowers are in the grieving process. Whether we show our respect and just need to express our emotions. Funeral flowers help int he grieving process.

and what post about Elvis would be complete without my favorite Elvis song.

Tags: Elvis, Celebrity Florist, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers

Funeral Flowers for Baseball Great Stan Musial

Posted by Rick Canale on Mon, Jan 28, 2013

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When a great man passes, we often stop to reflect on the impact that person had on our lives and others. Stan 'The Man' Musial passed away after 90 plus years. His life was a model for current ball players and every man, woman and child. 

“We didn't have much expect for kindness.”  - Stan Musial

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Ever the optimist and always the torch bearer, Musial never beat his chest. Did not clamor for individual headlines and always thought of others. When Musial he had an off year, he even had ownership give him a pay cut. Do you think any ballplayer today would offer to cut their own pay ? Doubtful.

Musial commanded respect. We are a better nation for his presence and example. At his funeral and viewing, we see how important flowers are at a funeral. From the single roses and bouquets at the base of his statue, to the grand wreath or baseball made of flowers; we see that a person's life is amplified by the presence of flowers at a funeral. 

At his eulogy, Bob Costas tells us how the great Mickey Mantle walked in Musial's shadow. . "He was a better player than me," the Mick apparently told Costas, "because he was a better man than me." 

Witness in this video how the Musial family shows the importance of memorializing Stan Musial with a red and white wreath of flowers at the base of his statue.


Tags: Baseball, Stan Musial, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers

The Boston Red Sox Show Respect with Funeral Flowers

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Sep 27, 2012

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The Boston Red Sox have been playing baseball for more than 100 years. They are a part of the community. The Red Sox are our heroes, our co-workers, our neighbors and our friends. Of course, Dustin Pedroia does not call me over his house to play cribbage, but the team employs hundreds of New Englanders and millions more of us cheer them on even when the season is as bleak as 2012.
As a pillar of our community, the Red Sox also show how important flowers are at a funeral or upon someone's passing. The Red Sox realize how important flowers in easing the grieving process. I have personally handled funeral flowers for the team on many occasions. Recently the public got a first hand look on how much the Red Sox value funeral flowers and what they mean during as a symbol of celebrating one's life.
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On Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 the world witnessed Red Sox players past (Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez) and present (Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz) et al. on the field at Fenway Park presenting single red roses upon the landscaped '6' on the infield dirt. This ceremony not only shows how much the Red Sox value flowers, but also how much flowers serve as a symbol as a celebration of life.
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Even upon Johnny Pesky's death in August, the Red Sox had a wreath of flowers hung over his retired #6 in Fenway Park by our colleagues at Winston Flowers. What is most important of this gesture is that the Red Sox were not even playing at home during this floral installation. The Red Sox were looking to show their respect with sympathy flowers.

Tags: Baseball, Red Sox Florist, Fenway Park, Flowers as Symbols, Sympathy Flowers, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers, Red Sox, David Ortiz

Gary Carter's Funeral Strikes Out via In Lieu of Flowers

Posted by Rick Canale on Sat, Feb 25, 2012

I am huge baseball fan. Every July from 1979-1985, my favorite day was the Major League Baseball All Star Game. It was a rare treat to watch the best players in baseball all on one field. In every one of the those years, I got to see my favorite National League Catcher in the game. Gary Carter was even the All Star Game MVP in 1981 and 1984. He was a part of one of the greatest throws in All Star Game history when Pirates right fielder Dave Parker gunned down the Angels Brian Downing at the plate in 1979.

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Carter was much more than a Hall of Fame baseball player. He was a Hall of Fame person. From his countless autograph requests that he fulfilled, to an infectious enthusiasm and impeccable character. Carter was someone you would want your kids to look up to.

 "Today, the world of baseball lost a Hall of Famer, and I have lost a treasured friend. Anyone lucky enough to have been part of Gary Carter's world will agree ... nobody loved life in a bigger way than Gary. He seized every opportunity to savor what mattered most to him: his close-knit, loving family; meaningful, enduring friendships; an unbridled passion for baseball; and the fulfillment he felt from making a difference in his community. Gary's brave battle has ended, but his from-the-gut laughter will be heard and his vitality and spirit will be felt forever. I loved him very much, and I know he is finally at peace." 
-- Davey Johnson, Mets manager from 1984-90, now manager of the Nationals

For Gary's funeral, Carter's family made a simple request that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to a select charity for children with autism. A noble gesture, but I feel they are missing a key component of the grieving process. 

Research indicates that sympathy flowers may not only brighten and warm a funeral or memorial service setting, but also have a positive impact on the emotional well being of the bereaved, according to the Society of American Florists (SAF). The national floral trade association cites a 2006 behavioral research study conducted by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Harvard University, that underscores the importance of flowers in our lives and reveals some of the calming, fortifying feelings they can create.

The Harvard study reveals that flowers feed compassion and chase away anxiety and worries. The research participants lived with fresh flowers for just a few days and reported increases in feelings of compassion and kindness for others. Overall, people simply felt less negative after being around flowers.

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The flowers are not only for the family, but also for the guests. The Carter family has been kind enough to share Gary with us all for decades. I feel that being able to send flowers would have helped ease many of his legions of fans grief. As you can see on stage, a few corny flower arrangements in baseball shapes and homeplates. 

As a Boston florist, I would have chosen to put all those odd and mismatched flower tributes outdoors to greet guests. Each piece would have had its own significant position of tribute. A funeral tribute means so much to guests and the bereaved.

 As a Boston florist who knows funeral flowers and felt like I knew Gary Carter, I would have created a stage scape of flowers going from one end to the other. The colors for Carter's funeral would have been bright just like the person. I would have chosen varying heights along the stage. I would have used roses and lots of them. Gerbera daisies and sunflowers too as they exude happiness, just like Carter.

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I was fortunate to have Carter sign this card for me in 1984. Thank you Gary Carter. You will be missed, but not forgotten.

Tags: Gary Carter, Boston Florist, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers

Whitney Houston's Funeral Flowers

Posted by Rick Canale on Tue, Feb 21, 2012

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When a music legend like Whitney Houston passes away, the world mourns. From Boston to Belgium, Miami to Milan, the world comes out in droves to show their respect. The above photo shows the public shrine of teddy bears, balloons and flowers all left at the church in memory of this icon. Whitney's music touched the lives of so many and although we see her faults, we also show our thanks for the beauty she let into our world. One of the many wonderful traits of fresh flowers is beauty. One beautiful blossom makes a statement of love and appreciation.
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As a Boston florist who specializes in funeral tributes, I must give the utmost praise to whomever chose the flowers and styles for Whitney Houston's funeral. The subtle colors of lilac, white, off white and green are simple elegant and timeless that embody the grace and stature of Whitney Houston the artist.
Two traditional standing easel sprays were chosen to adorn the altar and flank each side of the casket giving the most traditional setting. Like the artist, the look is timeless. 
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Whitney's casket cover is spectacular. Kudos to the NY/NJ florist who created this masterpiece. The funeral flowers for the casket are the most important feature in any funeral. In the unfortunate event that you need to make funeral arrangements, do not neglect the importance of the flowers for the casket.

Tags: Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers, Whitney Houston

North Korean Leader Kim-Jong Il's Funeral Creates Flower Shortage

Posted by Rick Canale on Fri, Dec 30, 2011

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Dandong, China is a city of 2.5 million people located in the northeast corner of China. Dandong is the main portal of trade to North Korea. Flower sales in Dandong exploded as mourners purchased yellow and white flowers and headed to the North Korean consulate to show their respect to the fallen North Korean leader. A florist named Sun in Dandong claimed he had been selling tens of thousands of yellow and white flowers to Chinese and North Korean mourners.
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South Korean news reported that thousands of chrysanthemums (the traditional Korean flower of mourning) had to be brought in from Shanghai to meet demand. 
This outpouring of affection for Kim Jong-Il reinforces the importance of flowers to help the grieving process. Although western media depicts Kim Jong-Il as a despot, it is clear that his life had a profound impact on citizens throughout Asia.
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Kim Jong-Il's body was laid out in a resplendid garden of flowers and his hearse was covered in a blanket of chrysanthemums. The importance of flowers at a funeral cannot be overlooked just because Kim Jong-Il was a dictator. What should be noted that millions of people in North Korea are mourning his loss and they are finding solace in fresh flowers.
 So when you read 'In Lieu of Flowers' for a Boston funeral, think twice. Millions of impoverished North Koreans know that flowers help ease the pain.

Tags: Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers, In Lieu of Flowers

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