which bouquet to bring?
November 28, 2012 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend. A coworkers wife has been diagnosed stage IV brain cancer. They are East Indian. We would like to bring flowers to their home. Does anyone know if certain flowers have special meaning culturally and / or are there flowers to avoid? Thank you.
posted by jennstra to Religion & Philosophy (6 answers total)
Unless you are Indian, I really wouldn't worry about it. They won't expect you to know and it's not really a time to draw attention to newly learned/possibky superficial knowledge of Indian culture, which varies a lot depending on where in India they are from, etc. I'm sure they're really overwhelmed emotionally at this point.

I think they'll appreciate your kindness, so just send whatever you like.
posted by discopolo at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

I am Indian, and I don't recall there being any code about flowers in Indian culture. Since this is not a funeral, there is no need to take colors associated with mourning (and that's a pretty Western thing in any case, not Indian). Take whatever you like, or if there is anything you know that they like.
posted by vidur at 11:36 AM on November 28, 2012

I'm Indian American, and I don't know anything specific about flowers, but keep in mind Indian culture is not a monolith and it might matter where they are from. However, agreed that you're probably fine given that they'll assume some lack of knowledge on your part about specific customs.

Some non Indian specific advice would be to avoid white since it's a mourning color (white flowers are for mourning, and widows in India often wear white) and I've also heard that it's recommended to bring a living plant instead of cut flowers as the dying cut flowers remind people of death.
posted by sweetkid at 11:40 AM on November 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Another practical tip for sending to anyone who is ill-avoid Oriental (i.e. Stargazer) lilies as they do have a fairly strong fragrance-it's pleasant but if someone is ill or ultrasensitive to smell they might not like it. Asiatic lilies are okay. (Your florist will know the difference.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:14 PM on November 28, 2012

You might also consider an Edible Arrangement. The family and visitors will most likely be focusing on the wife and her needs. Having something bright and colorful AND healthy and tasty, especially when there may be a lot of takeout/snack food in their future? And it won't wilt and die and look sad? And it most likely fits nearly everyone's dietary restrictions? Bonus. Plus every one I've had has had high-quality fruit, even out-of-season strawberries.
posted by Madamina at 2:54 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding Madamina. When my SO had the same illness we would have been delighted to receive an Edible Arrangement. Vitamin B is very important to brain cancer patients so I recommend something with berries.

The thing with flowers is that they just sit there, and yes, they die and look sad. If the patient moves to a hospital the flowers might not be allowed to move with her.

A lot of chemo and seizure drugs require you to avoid tyramine. I did a quick scan of a MAOI inhibitor food list, and I didn't see any fruits apart from banana peels prohibited. One must avoid bananas, chocolate and cheese, among other foods when taking certain cancer drugs. Definitely consult a list before choosing the arrangement.

If an Edible Arrangement doesn't work, consider an Ugly Doll. My SO had one that accompanied him to infusions and surgeries. They are adorable. I'd embed links but I'd probably fail.
posted by vincele at 4:25 PM on November 28, 2012

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