Okay to skip sending flowers for a funeral?

I’d much rather do something for the family of the deceased than just send flowers. Flowers are just one more thing to take care of after the funeral, terrariums are something you have to take care of for months and months. Especially in this weather, when trying to transport fresh flower arrangements home after the service would kill them almost instantly.

A friend’s mother passed away last night, tonight I took a complete meal over and dropped it off. There’s a visitation and small service tomorrow night, then they’ll be taking her out of state to bury her, with the full funeral service to be conducted there.

I plan on taking some more food tomorrow to the visitation, as well as offering whatever assistance I can, so it’s okay to not throw money away on flowers, right? I’d much rather take their vehicle and gas it up for them so they can stay and receive visitors at the funeral home, or bring the kids back to my place for a few hours or something needed, but I’m always torn about breaking away from the flower tradition.

I think what you’re doing is wonderful. Don’t fret about the flowers…they will remember your kindness much more than a Condolence Bouquet from 1-800-FLOWERS.

I see a lot of obits requesting donations to a charity in lieu of flowers. I think a lot of people would agree that flowers are overrated, and your ideas sound very thoughtful.

My stepfather passed away a week ago and his obituary had the “in lieu of flowers” bit precisely because my mother was overwhelmed and didn’t want to have to deal with them along with everything else. Of course, plenty of people ignored that and after the funeral we had to bring loads of arrangements back to the house. Mom and my sister got to work splitting the arrangements up into manageable bunches and putting them in vases, and Mom said she was glad people sent them anyway, because it gave her something to do. So, you know, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

On the other hand, quite a few people brought food while Dad was on his deathbed and after he passed. There was all kinds of food - chili, sandwiches, an entire country ham - and it made it easier on me to make sure my mother ate. She was (obviously) overcome with grief and just didn’t give much thought to eating, so I made it my job to keep her fed. She didn’t WANT any food, but when someone went to the trouble of cooking and transporting a meal for her, she’d at least eat a few bites. I think bringing food is a loving and thoughtful gesture.

It does depend on the flowers a bit. I agreed that endless “standard funeral” bouquets can be a bit of a waste of time. And what you’re already doing sounds great. But after my father died, my mother got quite a few dried flower arrangements. Nearly two years later these are still dotted around her house and provide a lovely ongoing reminder of Dad.

Flowers can be a nice way of saying you’re thinking about the family at a time like that when you don’t know how else to express it. I certainly did appreciate the flowers that we got when my dad died. But if you’re making the effort to show you care in other, practical ways (which it sounds like you are - well done) I think that’s absolutely enough.

I think your ideas are very thoughtful and sweet.

When my mother died a good friend of mine brought a sandwich tray to the house. We used it for the family at the funeral home and then afterward as we were sharing time together at my brother’s house. It was nice to have and very thoughtful of her.

I think any of your ideas for helping with things that the family actually needs are great, and will be remembered long after flowers are gone. I know “being remembered” is not your reason, but what I’m trying to say is that they are thoughtful and much more valuable. So many times people offer to help but the bereaved don’t want to ask. Offering a couple of specific choices would make things a lot easier.

I do like the idea of something “keepable” instead of cut flowers, though, if people want to go that route. Plants or dried arrangements, as have been mentioned, are a nice reminder of friends’ caring.

If you are nearby and know what’s needed, please do it. People who are out of town and don’t know what to do will send plenty of flowers.

When my best friend died there were loads of flowers and after the funeral her husband was so overwhelmed that all he could say was 'WTF am I supposed to do with the damn flowers now?" I had some friends load them into their car and break all of the ones that screamed ‘funeral’ down to bouquets and get rid of the stands before bringing them back to the house. Everyone was free to (and quietly asked to) take away as many as they wanted so that he was left with just one arrangement. That worked pretty well and wasn’t awkward. I think that a lot of people don’t want the reminder of the flowers there in front of them for days. I think that it’s better to bring food and help out, or to donate to charity if it isn’t someone that close to you.

I think hospitals/nursing homes welcome flower donations. At least here.

Nothing is expected, and showing up is all many do.

To this day, I can’t stand Poinsetta’s because when my father died around Christmas, we received a bunch as gifts and the church was decorated with about 100 of them. It’s a weird association. I have a friend who is the same way about star-gazer lilies-- ever since her mom’s funeral she can’t stand the smell.

So I agree with the previous posters… nix the flowers.

Other ideas for thoughtful drop-off kind of gifts that I’ve really appreciated in the past were a coffee-centered gift basket complete with coffee, sugar, half and half and biscotti (you’d be amazed how much coffee you go through at an old-fashioned Italian funeral), a tray of muffins and bagels dropped off early in the morning before the funeral, and someone else brought a big box of munchie type food-- peanuts, chips, salsa, etc.

I can’t say enough how thoughtful all of these gifts were. It makes you feel well taken care of, at a time when it’s hard to even take a shower.

If you feel that strongly, send flowers in a month or two when they will be appreciated. Or just console yourself with the reflection that the reason for the tradition no longer exists.

But about that food … could you put it in a smaller, 1/2 lasagna size pan? Much easier to fit them in the freezer. Food can be a bit stressful, too.

In my workplace, we recently had a co-worker whose husband was terminally ill. For the short period of time before his death she was off work. As colleagues we ended up doing two things: while he was off ill, we found a caterer that makes meals to go - real food - in single serving sizes and got several different meals that could be kept frozen, and then reheated in either the single portions or for the two of them as long as they were able. After he died, we also gave her a basket of spa products to help her pamper herself. Either of those things might be appropriate as an alternative to flowers in your situation.

The food will be appreciated at least as much. I remember both of my paternal grandparents’ deaths primarily for the extraordinary amount of kindness shown toward my family, especially toward my (divorced) dad, who was their caretaker.

After my grandmother’s funeral, the folk from the funeral home distributed the flowers given in her memory to the hospital, the nursing home, her apartment building, etc. The family kept a couple of arrangements, but the rest were shared with the community.

This may have been a perk of small town life.

Still, I agree with the general consensus–nothing wrong with not giving flowers–you can give money to charity, or use it for practical stuff which helps the family, and not feel guilty about flowers.

After my brother’s funeral, the flowers on display stands (standard funeral stuff) were left on the grave and removed by the cemetary staff after a few days. The funeral home staff delivered all of the potted items to the house. Still had to deal with them but the transport wasn’t an issue.

For what its worth, I was in the “flowers are a waste” camp but was shocked at how comforting it was to see the display from my co-workers at my brother’s funeral.

My one annoyance is when donation to a specific charity is requested and someone makes a donation to their own favorite charity. I know it isn’t rational but it strikes me as saying “your dead relative couldn’t pick a good charity”.

The last funeral I went to was for an aunt in England, and after the service one of the funeral directors said that was what they often did, so we (the closest relatives) agreed that the flowers go to a hospital or nursing home – I can’t remember which.

The default in the UK now seems to be “Family flowers only, please - donations to XXXX charity if you wish”. A much better use of resources (as is your idea), IMO.