Funerals aren’t the funniest topic to talk about, but they are very prominent in my line of work and there’s no avoiding them.
It’s not often, when we are asked to do funerals, that I know the dearly departed personally. Occasionally, I will know the family or a friend, but getting to know the person and the relationship between them and those planning their funeral, is very important when creating a floral tribute, which in many ways is a last goodbye.
Even when I’m putting together a simple hand-tie for a customer, I like to know what flowers they like, whether they want something bold and colourful or soft and sensual. Flowers can say a lot about a person and about the relationship between the recipient and the sender.
I was once asked to send a bunch of dead roses and wilting, slightly stinky foliage to someone. We graciously declined, but I’ve always wondered what the story was behind that request.
Most requests we get however are ones of love and friendship and this is what I believe funeral flowers to be.
My funeral is going to be a big colourful affair. I want everyone I’ve ever met to come along and get completely rat-faced, I want LOTS of crying! Some laughter, as long as it’s in response to stories of how funny and entertaining I am (was). I want people to remember and remark on how tall, slim and attractive I was and how the world, OK village, will be a much quieter place without me. My only regret will be, not being there. Although my team had better get the flowers right! I’ll be there watching and tutting over their shoulders, as I do now.
But, enough of ME, I’m not planning on going anywhere, soon.
The real reason for this week’s rather sad subject, on what has otherwise been a glorious week of sunshine, weddings and happy occasions, is because we’ve had two funerals which really touched my heart.
The first funeral we did this week was for a two year old child. It’s funerals like this when the deceased is so young or when a child dies unexpectedly, that are really hard to do. We tend to do them late in the day or very early in the morning, when there are too many customers coming in to a shop full of blurry-eyed florists.
The second funeral was for a wonderful lady, a lovely customer and good friend to the shop. Penny was larger than life, spoke her mind and was incredibly kind hearted. She told me off because my prices were too low, told other customers off is she thought they considered going to or had ever been to another florist, she always persuaded me to support her favourite causes and we loved her dearly.
I felt extremely honoured to be doing the floral tributes for Penny’s funeral. I spent hours, chatting while decorating her wicker coffin and filling the church with some of her favourite blooms. On the morning of her funeral Charlotte and I had just delivered the last few flowers to the church and were heading back to the shop. I couldn’t believe that was the last time I would get the chance to tell Pen how great she was, so as we parked up, I made a decision. I went into the shop, politely hurried up a waiting customer, ushered out the whole team, popped a notice on the door and followed Becky in her people carrier, back to the church.
The church was packed to bursting and the service was about to begin.
EEERRRGH CLONK the church door creaked open. Trying not to make an entrance I ducked down and led the Flower Shop, noisily into the only space available at the back of the church to pay our final respects.
Goodbye Penny, you will be sadly missed!