I have been arranging and officiating funeral services for over 22 years. People are sometimes surprised to learn that this is something I do on a full-time basis.
“I bet you get to meet some fascinating people?” They often ask.
The answer is, “yes, I do,” one of the reasons why I struggle with the whole concept of ‘copy and paste’ ceremonies.
‘Our uniqueness, individuality, and life experience mould us into fascinating beings,” says Linda Thompson.
My career is all about delving ‘into the deepest resources of our hearts to cultivate an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and compassion,’ always keeping in the forefront of my mind that this person is unique and has a mother…
The responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings—is the biggest job anyone can embark upon, and I’m especially considering motherhood. Jill Churchill says that “there’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” Being a mother provides the potential for growth and development, individually and uniquely. Few roles outside motherhood present the potential to engage a person so fully—physically and emotionally.
I have recently arranged a ceremony for a fascinating man who died suddenly aged 50 years. He was hugely popular, despite his mischievous nature and his sometimes-questionable behaviour. He was a ‘loveable rogue’ and a bit of a ‘cheeky chappy.’ Whilst speaking with his family, who fondly recollected, I remember looking across to his mum, who wasn’t saying very much at all. The others chuckled at some of the things he had said and done throughout his life, but I could see the pain in her eyes as they reminisced.
“He was my little boy,” she said, “ and I loved him, warts and all.” She had put everything she could into raising him, supporting him, and encouraging him to be the person he was. “I wouldn’t have wanted him any other way,” she exclaimed. It was clear to all present that he was who he was because his mother had invested so much in his uniqueness. ‘As a mother, you love the whole person,” she said. Absolutely! A little insight into her heart and mind, don’t you think? Her words illustrate the breadth and depth of a mother’s love for her child. It is unconditional. *
Over the next few days, people across the UK will be showing their appreciation for the unrestricted love and support their mothers have given to them. The most common way to do this is by giving flowers.
Flowers make an emotional impact on us as human beings. They serve as a natural decoration that adds a colourful ambience to a room. Their fragrances and colours are stimulating to the senses. We give flowers as gifts so that we connect in some way with emotion. Whether its love, joy, affection, appreciation, sympathy, romance or apology, flowers have a unique way of communicating the most profound feelings most elegantly.
Flowers at funerals are often a beautiful way of expressing our most profound love for the person who had died. They have always been a way of expressing our deepest sentiments. Still, they are also a delightful and natural way of adding colour to what is already a difficult occasion. When we’re looking to express sympathy or condolences, sending sympathy & funeral flowers is a heartfelt way to deliver some comfort.
Arranging and placing flowers around a loved-one is one of the oldest forms of mourning. Flowers in this sense, have always had a profoundly spiritual significance, symbolising the life cycle from birth to death. They represent not only love and sympathy but also eternity and immortality.
Some flowers have precise meanings:
Lilies, for example, symbolise a return to innocence and purity. White roses stand for humility and a return to youthfulness. Yellow roses denote strong relationships, and red roses symbolise love and devotion, whilst carnations express respect and remembrance.
“He was my little boy,” the mother said, “and I want to lay flowers around his coffin because he is special.” And this is what she did at his funeral. It was her last precious act of love. She had upheld his specialness in life, and in death, she was determined to do the same. I expect that had the situation been different, the son would have wanted to do the same for her, such was the closeness of their bond.
Over the next few months, we will feature florists who excel in their endeavour to create what I believe are some of the finest floral tributes in the business. I bear testimony to the many hours of devotion and creativity they put into creating something extraordinary because they have a deep understanding and empathy with the people they serve.
We must never underestimate how entrenched flowers are in the funeral tradition. I think you will see examples of their significance in this very important blog series.
*shared with kind permission