Funeral Flowers: What's Too Much ... or Not Enough

Q. My siblings and I are bickering over how much to spend for flowers at our mother's funeral. It's, "What do we need flowers for? They're a waste of money" – all the way to, "Let's fill the chapel." What do other people do?

Which people are you talking about? Michael Jackson's funeral cost $1 million, including $16,000 for flowers. Flowers covered the gates of Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace at Princess Diana's $1.8 million funeral. She was buried near a lake filled with her favorite blooms: white lilies and white roses. For the rest of us, resources tend to be limited, and differences in values and sentimentality can complicate the funeral arrangements. Some consider flowers "unnecessary frills." To others, flowers symbolize hope, renewal and the cycle of life. They bring solace and a sense of connection to the deceased. A bare chapel can seem cold and unloving in comparison.

According to www.CostHelper.com, the cost of funeral flowers can range from as little as $40 to $800 – and up. Prices vary, depending on the quantity ordered and the type of bloom; lilies and exotic choices are expensive, for example. If you want flower-covered limousines to the cemetery, expect to pay for them. Geography counts, too. Prices in a large city are likely to top those in a rural area. Casket sprays, which are placed over the coffin (and are available in varying sizes) are common, as are flower wreaths on a stand or easel. At many funerals, boutonnieres are ordered for pallbearers and family members.

To head off further dissension in your family, why not confer with the funeral director, who can suggest ways to create warmth without breaking the flower budget? Florists can also educate you on seasonal choices and other ways to hold down costs. Of course, your experience illustrates another good reason to plan one's own funeral, and do it in detail. The bereaved are spared stressful decisions that can cause unnecessary friction.

Incidentally, flowers have been associated with tributes to the dead since antiquity, and fragrant varieties were probably chosen for practical, as well as aesthetic reasons. Their scent helped hide the odor of the decomposing body. Funeral flowers are not appropriate for all religions, however. There are no flowers at Orthodox, and often, Conservative Jewish funerals. Islamic funerals may or may not include them.

***

If you have a question for Florence, please email her at fisaacs@florenceisaacs.com.

Florence Isaacs is the author of several books on etiquette, including My Deepest Sympathies: Meaningful Sentiments for Condolence Notes a.... She writes two advice blogs for Legacy.com: Sincere Condolences and Widow in the World, a blog for bereaved spouses and partners.

Image via Wikimedia Commons, Internet Archive Book

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Comment by dream moon on January 26, 2016 at 4:36pm

we all say famly flowers only donat 2 so on lk 2 big c or stroke or hert so on 

iv saed wen i go dntae 2 cats dogs sheltr i did do 

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