In Memory of The Retail Florist
Normally we write about sympathy and memorial work in a
later issue, but the “in lieu of flowers” issue raised its nasty little
voice last week on CBC’s radio show, The Current. Hosted by Elizabeth
Gray, the show was about floral breeding and production practices by
countries that export to North America (see “Flower Confidential” on
As a totally gratuitous sidebar, Gray closed the show by giving the microphone to Pearl Davie of the Ontario Memorial Society. This is a loose association of non-funeral directors who have joined together to serve as consumer advocates for fair funeral pricing and services. Gray asked Davie to speak about proper etiquette and the concern raised by the fire service industry when funeral homes in Winnipeg were overwhelmed with tributes for two firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Davie’s rather flippant response was that she wouldn’t be at her funeral to see the flowers so her personal preference would be to receive flowers while she was living. She went on to say that it would be better to donate money to a charity upon her passing. According to Davie, the average full-service funeral will receive approximately $700 worth of floral tributes, and the funeral homes aren’t equipped to deal with them, and don’t know what to do with them after the service.
The fact that Davie wasn’t able, or chose not to speak about the important role flowers play in the memorial situation comes back to haunt the floral industry. It is our responsibility to establish the important role of tribute flowers and to help the funeral directors to distribute the surplus to pockets of the community that benefit from the feelings of well-being that flowers generate. (See Harvard study available at www.canadianfloristmag.com).
There are many nursing homes, women’s shelters, local health societies, churches, legions and perhaps even schools, that would willingly accept the beautiful work of our industry. Make it easy for the funeral directors you work closely with – go out into your community and develop a list of grateful recipients.
This industry has been battling with this negative press in obituaries for some time now and it will take a concentrated effort to make a change. The funeral services industry has associations and publications, just like the floral industry. Let’s start lobbying these associations for a better solution to “in lieu of flowers.” You can do it as individuals or you can pressure Flowers Canada Retail to lobby on your behalf. (Of course, you will have to join!)
The societies and associations that are the worthy recipients of cash donations, have many resources behind them. They spend much time and effort making sure that the donations keep coming. Florists must get in front of the funeral directors and work on a mutually beneficial alternative to the “in lieu of flowers” dilemma.
To my thinking, our former sales manager Susann Wichrowski said it best: “In lieu of memorial flowers please send flowers to someone you love.” The funeral home can still deliver a card or e-mail note to the bereaved on your behalf. No one has to distribute the surplus, the bereaved are comforted by your thoughts and receiving flowers brightens another person’s day.
If you want to send some flowers to Pearl Davie of the Ontario Memorial Society, you can contact her by telephone at 905-385-3616 or by e-mail at