Flowers symbolize the life cycle of humans from birth through death. Both humans and flowers have fragile lives and both need proper conditions to grow and thrive. In death, flowers symbolize how the beauty of creation is temporary, just as life is temporary. Flowers have special aesthetic value for their beauty helps balance our emotional response to the perceived ugliness of death.
In older days, the sweet fragrance of funeral flowers would mask the decomposing body odors. Today people send flowers to funerals because it is a visual expression of love, sympathy and respect; it’s a way of sharing the burden of grief and community support for those grieving. Flowers’ warmth and beauty add to the dignity and consolation of the funeral service. After the funeral service, the bereaved is left with a “memory picture” of the final tribute of their loved one. The more comforting the “memory picture” is the more easily it is to recall the final tribute, thus the more vivid is their reality of loss.
The bereaved never see in their “memory picture” flowers that wither and die, but always recall the beauty of the final tribute. People who have attended funerals with no flowers have expressed the feeling that something was missing and the funeral was depressing. Finally flowers are not only for the living , they are for the dead too. Flowers help express respect for the dead which in turn honors the dead and consoles the living.
Gathering and arranging flowers around our dead is society’s oldest form of mourning and honoring those we have lost.
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