John Horan and Jennifer McBride discuss this often asked question with Rick on KEZW. Listen as they provide guidance and suggestions to assist you.
When one hears of a death, the thought of sending flowers to be displayed during the wake and funeral service most likely will come up. Sending flowers is a traditional and appropriate way to convey your sympathy for the family, while at the same time honoring the deceased. The following guidelines are based on the most common questions we receive with regard to flower arrangements:
Who should send flowers?
Unless the family has requested donations in lieu of flowers or have directly expressed wishes not to receive them, it is always appropriate to send flowers as a show of respect regardless of your relationship to the family or deceased.
What kind of flowers should I choose?
Because the wake and funeral process often lasts up to a week, you should choose flowers that will last for several days. it’s important that you make sure to select flowers that are sturdy and do not require much care, such as roses or lilies. Tulips may be very nice to look at but they are too delicate to last for a day or two without proper handling and care. In most cases, your florist will have suggested arrangements that include the flowers that are best to last the necessary duration.
A NOTE OF CAUTION: Flower color choices should stay within what is considered respectful, based on the customs of the family. In most cases, light colors such as white, light pink and peach are deemed acceptable, as are dark purple or magenta. Red flowers are accepted in some cultures, but not in others. If you are not aware of the family’s belief system, we caution you on purchasing red flowers. For example, in Chinese traditions, red symbolizes happiness and would be very inappropriate at a funeral/wake.
When should I order flowers?
As flowers are typically delivered to the funeral home on the day before or the day of the wake, it is best to order flowers as soon as you’ve heard the news of the passing.
Should I send flowers directly to the family?
Please call the location serving the family to verify that the funeral home is involved in the service. If the funeral home is involved in a service, we recommend you send flowers to the funeral home. We take a photo and attach the photo to the sympathy card, making it easier to write a thank-you note later.
What should I write on the card?
When sending flowers, the florist should attach a sympathy card to the arrangement. Your sentiments should be authentic and sympathetic. Avoid clichés. You might consider a message such as “We loved and thought of Mary as a member of our family. She will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathy is with you.” A simple and sincere message will go a long way.
Can I send items other than flowers?
Oftentimes, people choose other tributes or gestures such as sending a meal, baked goods, a fruit basket, or a food-basket. For example, the morning of the service when the family is gathering, you might see if it would be appreciated for you to bring over pastries early that morning and set these up with coffee and juice for family members as they arrive at the family home.
In summary, as far as flowers go, there isn’t much you can do incorrectly. Unless the family has requested you do not send or bring flowers, your gesture will be well-received, and will offer a sense of comfort and express your sympathy.
Suzanne Caverly, RN with The Denver Hospice was selected as the winner ofthe July Hospice Caregiver Award, presented by Horan & McConaty. She was nominated by Peter Repka, son of Edie Repka,who had the following to say about why he nominated her.
Why would you like to nominate this person as “Caregiver of the Month”?
A year ago last Thanksgiving, my mom, Edith Repka, went to the hospital for about five days for heart related problems. Within two weeks, Mom was back in the hospital and at that point she told us that she didn’t want to go back to the hospital again, so we, Mom, Lisa, her daughter, and I called a couple of hospice care centers. After a short deliberation, we decided on The Denver Hospice. As it turned out, we could not have picked a better place.
So at the beginning of 2013, The Denver Hospice was set to come into Mom’s home and take over the care of her. Her first nurse, who happened to be a good friend of the Pete Lansing family, soon after taking care of Mom, decided to retire. As disappointed as we were, this lead to Suzanne Caverly coming into Mom’s and our lives. After the first few visits, we all had come to the conclusion that Suzanne was not only a great nurse but an awesome person. Suzanne started off seeing Mom once a week on Wednesdays and the longer she came, all of us, especially Mom, realized how special of a person had come into her life.
Suzanne treated Mom with so much love and caring that the comfort level soared to incredible heights. Suzanne started off leaving me notes about Mom condition and then she started talking to me on the phone on a regular basis. Which for me was much more personable and allowed me to ask questions immediately. This was so helpful to me. Mom would tell me that after a while that she felt so comfortable with Suzanne, she felt she could and did talk to Suzanne about anything, including her eventual death.
At this point, when Suzanne would come visit with Mom, she would stay much longer than the required one hour and often, depending upon Suzanne schedule, she would stay upwards of a couple or three hours. This gave mom great peace and allowed the both of them to really get to know each other beyond either ones expectations. As Mom’s disease got worse, Suzanne’s support and visits increased. Suzanne would call and talk to my sister in Glenwood Springs, and update, as well as console her as best she could. Suzanne and all of my family became so close over a relatively short period that seemed like an eon of time. In other words, she became part of our family. She told me how much she loved my mom and how my mom gave her so much strength.
When the time came nearer to Mom’s death, I could tell how much this was affecting her. But Suzanne never allowed this to affect her caring of Mom. In fact, it seemed to strengthen the bond between her and Mom, Lisa and me. Suzanne became the person that I turned to for support, knowledge and strength and she did this with open arms and a caring and loving heart. Suzanne did her job and then some with as much grace as my mom lived her life, and certainly with as much grace as Mom when she died. Suzanne meant so much to my mom and means that much more to myself and Lisa. Suzanne has carved a place in my heart and family that will be there as long as I’m around.
May God bless this special woman,
Peter A. Repka
Each monthly Caregiver Award winner will receive a gift card that can be used for whatever the recipient decides and an award.
At the end of twelve months the review committee will select the Caregiver of the Year to be revealed at a banquet honoring the twelve finalists. The Caregiver of the Year will win a trip for two within Colorado.
Do you know a Caregiver? Nominate them today!