Our impulse when someone loses a loved one or someone close to them, is to spread what comfort we can, and to let them know they are not alone. One traditional way to do this has been to contact local florists and send sympathy flowers to the bereaved, as well as funeral flowers to be placed graveside on the day. What many may not be aware of, however, is that this tradition did not start with florists, or the wide spreading of flower shops, or even with the 19th century proliferation of home gardens; no, this practice likely dates from far, far, before.
Thousands of Years
Stories have popped up all over the world, through the years, of the fossilized remnants of plants and flowers, and other things being found in and around graves in archeological digs. Questions surround each find—were they put there intentionally? Were they meant as sympathy flowers, as decoration, or were they simply there by accident? These days most agree that these flowers were likely put on the graves after burial, as a way of remembrance, of mourning, of saying goodbye. Without access to historical records from various eras it’s difficult to say definitely when this practice began, but a recent find on Israel’s Mount Carmel may be the earliest example yet, dating back 12,000 years.
Not an Empty Gesture
Some things can’t be fixed, but sometimes just knowing that someone is thinking of you, or sharing in your feelings can help. This is one of the reasons people send sympathy and funeral flowers—perhaps they may bring a fleeting smile to a face but, most importantly, they let someone know that others are there for them. Funeral flowers are similar, in that they are often sent to the funeral home or service, to be placed on the grave site itself—an act of honoring and remembering. If you are unsure of protocol, or what to send, any of the local florists in BloomNation.com’s marketplace of florists will be able to help you, and guide you in what is likely a very difficult time.4