People often call and ask, “I am not sure if I should send flowers or do something else… what has the family requested?” In some cases, there are requests made by the family, usually suggesting a donation to a specific charity or foundation. But in a lot of cases, the family of the deceased has not given instructions, leaving it up to whatever people wish to do.
Traditionally, the choice is to send flowers. Some people, however, feel that flowers do not get to be enjoyed for very long and that they are simply discarded after a service is done. But in most cases, if the family does not take the flowers themselves, the funeral home delivers them to a local senior home or hospital where they are divided up and displayed throughout the facility or given to the residents or patients to enjoy.
More and more, people are inquiring about alternative ways to express sympathy to the family or to honour the deceased. To help you make your decision, there are a number of factors you may wish to consider such as: What was your relationship to the deceased? If you were close to the deceased, perhaps you would want to do something to honour them in a way that reflected their personality or your relationship with them — make a donation to the Cubs Charities because you never missed an Opening Day together, or plant a tree in their name because of their devotion to nature.
You will also want to consider how close are you to the family and what their circumstances are. If the deceased left behind several children, for example, it would be appropriate to make a monetary contribution to the family. Or if you are not close to the family, sending a fruit basket would be a lovely and appropriate gesture.
There are, of course, a myriad of other options now available including: sympathy gift baskets, garden stones, books, statues and artwork, jewelry, quilts, picture frames and a host of home and garden items to express sympathy, memorialize, honor or celebrate the life of the deceased. Many of these items, however, are very personal in nature; so I would again suggest that you consider the relationship you have with the family.
If you are still unsure of what would be most appropriate, do not hesitate to ask the funeral director. In many cases, they will already have a relationship with the family or have at least learned some details that would help guide you in making the best decision. Most of all, remember that a gesture given out of love or thoughtfulness is still as sweet as any spray of roses could be.