A director I used to work with always said 'flowers are the bain of the funeral director's existence'. Indeed, we spend a lot of our time arranging flowers at the chapel for visitation, then moving them to church for the service, then, taking some to the grave, some to the home, some to this nursing home and that hospice. In the cold weather we have to wrap and unwrap the flowers and plants with plastic so they don't wither away. Pollen satins our white shirts, petals fall and stinky water spills all over in the vehicles. I almost lost a finger in a flower stand accident!
Often, the family has no idea of what to do with all the flowers and plants they get- who has room for all of this, and do you really want to look at it for a week? In order for the family to be able to write accurate thank-you notes to everyone who sends flowers, the funeral home staff has to make sure there is a description on the back of all the cards of the pieces, and there is almost never a description on the back. Don't even get me started on the giant trees some people send when the family lives in an apartment or nursing home! And then, there's the cost- many families ask 'why not put the money to better use- let's just list a memorial instead.'
Well, I'm all for donating to worthy charities, and I won't mind only moving five pieces of flowers to church tomorrow, but when I die, I'd like my obituary to read 'In lieu of memorials, please send flowers'.
Flowers are a visible expression for a grieving family that their friends and family and neighbors and coworkers care and are thinking of them in their loss. When a family comes in before their visitation, the first thing they do after weeping at the casket is look at all the flowers and say 'isn't that nice, aren't these beautiful, look these are from my job! these are from our neighbor!' When they come into the chapel for the service, again there is the visual reminder of all the people who may not have the words to make things any better, but have shown by their actions that this person and this loss are meaningful. Whatever the cost of the flowers, and whatever is done with them afterwards-they made a difference to that family.