When a funeral director picks up a deceased’s body at home, a nursing home, or sometimes even a hospital, some make a thoughtful gesture of leaving a flower on the person’s recently-vacated bed or pillow. Some use fresh flowers, others may use artificial (but long lasting) flowers.
This Dear Abby letter writer brings up a powerful consideration for funeral directors. If you’re giving bereaved families flowers, should they be fresh or fake?
DEAR ABBY: My brother-in-law died a month ago and was cremated by the local affiliate of a prominent funeral home. To make it easier for my sister, I accompanied her to the mortuary to pick up her husband’s remains. I walked in alone, and as I returned to the car with his urn, a young funeral home employee in a black suit and scuffed shoes followed me. Through the window of the car, he presented my sister an artificial red rose and said, “We’re sorry for your loss.”
My sister and I were appalled by the insincerity of this gesture, and I called and told the funeral home director that the sentiments were as phony as the rose. He said, “I thought it was a great idea,” and couldn’t understand our reaction. Were we wrong? — RESENTING PHONY SENTIMENTS
DEAR RESENTING: Yes, you were. When people are grieving, emotions are sometimes raw, so I’m not going to scold you. However, your response to the young man was ungracious. All that needed to be said was, “No, thank you.”
The Doyenne of Death says:
I agree with Dear Abby’s response. Most good funeral directors do everything they can to help grieving family members. Presenting a flower when picking up cremated remains, even if it’s an artificial red rose, is a caring gesture.
Perhaps it was the youth of the employee? The fact that his shoes were not polished? The idea that the rose was artificial, even though it would not fade as live roses do?
We need to remember clients pick up on the smallest details. Unfortunately, this family misinterpreted the funeral home’s intentions. Your thoughts? Comment below!