Funeral Etiquette:- Where & When to Send Flowers.
January 11, 2014 9:16 AM   Subscribe

My Husbands Grandmother has died and he and his whole family are in transit to the funeral (I am unable to travel due to health reasons) and wanted to send flowers as I couldn't be there but I don't quite understand the etiquette involved with the style of Funeral they are having.

They are having a viewing on Sunday evening and then the actual burial on the Monday morning. Where do I send the flowers, to the funeral home for the viewing or to the graveyard for the burial? Or should I even send them? The obituary says "Memorials are suggested to be made to the Bethel Cemetery" would flowers be considered memorials in this case or would it be donations as further down the page they suggest donations to the cemetery? She did not have a lot of money so I could see this being done so family and friends could tactfully help pay for the funeral. Can I send flowers as well/instead or would that be a faux pas?

I have made several social faux pas with my husbands extended family based on the differing cultural expectations between Australia and the US before, but as it's a funeral I want to be extra careful not to accidentally do the wrong thing and upset anyone further so any help is appreciated.
posted by wwax to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the funeral in the US or Australia?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:19 AM on January 11, 2014

Response by poster: Oh sorry should have mentioned that. It's in the US. Southern Illinois in case there is some local variances in traditions.
posted by wwax at 9:22 AM on January 11, 2014

Best answer: You can send both flowers and money. You would send the flowers to the viewing at the funeral home. They will perhaps take some to the grave, but probably not.

I would forgo the flowers and just send a small memorial, but there's nothing wrong with doing either or both.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:24 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In my experience, flowers are sent to the service/viewing. Some or all will be transported to the cemetery for the burial service.

I'm not sure what to make of the "Memorials are suggested to be made to the Bethel Cemetery" because usually memorials are requested to be sent to charities. I think you are right, that maybe it is to help with the funeral costs but it also may be that the cemetery is a very old one and they are trying to keep it up (the cemetery in general). What you can do is call the cemetery or funeral home and ask.

I would send flowers. It helps when you've lost someone, to see that others cared enough to send them. A new grave without flowers is a sad thing to see.

Your husband really needs to help you understand his family's expectations, though.
posted by Houstonian at 9:35 AM on January 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: In a recent experience with a deceased relative, the flowers were sent to the FH. Given the time constraints as this is Saturday, it may be difficult getting something there for Sunday. At the same time, I am sure florists have dealt with this before. Do the phone thing with credit card in hand and things could happen. The issue with sending flowers to the burial is that the burial event is not really a place to receive items. That part is more about the final ceremony as opposed to being with those of the deceased. So the FH delivery is the place to go with.

As far as missteps with your husband's family, just keep it simple. Send the flowers with a card. Don't get too crazy with it.

Reasonable people will appreciate the thought, effort and concern.
Unreasonable people will never be satisfied.

As far as what constitutes an observance of respect to a deceased person? Yes, contributions are fine, but do what is right for you. If flowers seem right to you, then do that.

Just do your best and that is the best you can do.
posted by lampshade at 9:59 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Illinoian here. Send the flowers to the funeral home. If you asked the florist to add a "Dearest Mother" thing to it and label it from you and your husband, that will also be perfectly normal. It's currently noon here so there's time to reach a local florist and see if you can get something put together and delivered.

Viewings tend to be quiet social occasions where family that hasn't seen each other in a long time catches up and also remembers the deceased. Your absence is very simply explained and wouldn't be a problem at all. We understand it's a large effort to get from Australia to southern Illinois, for crying out loud.

Since your husband will actually be there and directly interacting with family have him inquire about making a memorial contribution to offset the expenses. You're a family unit now and when he acts in a situation like this, it's on behalf of the both of you. People totally understand that.

Sorry for your loss. What you're doing is perfectly fine and won't cause any trouble.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:11 AM on January 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Just a thought: Send the flowers from you personally ("so sorry I couldn't be there") and a contribution, assuming it's to help with funeral expenses, on behalf of you and your husband.
posted by DrGail at 10:11 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the prompt responses. I have arranged for some flowers to go to the funeral home for the visitation/viewing, it's a very small town so the florist knew of the funeral and could get flowers there in time with no worries, which made things much easier.

Normally I don't worry about the "cultural" differences as our families usually just laugh it off, but with it being a funeral I wanted to do what they would consider the "right" thing out of respect, and having buried my own father I know how little things can really set you off when you are going through something like this.
posted by wwax at 10:29 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think that while you're a family unit and anything either off you send would be from both of you as far as the family goes, your husband will appreciate it personally that you're making the extra gesture of sending flowers. I know that I would have been very grateful if my husband had sent personal flowers when my beloved grandmother died in another country. Good luck.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:59 AM on January 11, 2014

For future reference for anyone reading this, yes, ideally send to the visitation/viewing. Generally the funeral home will see that the flowers get either to the gravesite, or if more appropriate (plants or vased flowers) to the home.

It is also appropriate to send vased flowers to the home of the deceased to the other family there. But please note, do a vase or a regular basket of flowers in that case. Don't send a funeral stand or an urn type arrangement to the home UNLESS they are holding a memorial service there. If in doubt your florist will know what is appropriate.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:56 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just a warning; I tried to send flowers to a funeral I was unable to attend recently and the florist said that because it was a Catholic funeral the church did not accept flowers and the best option would be to send a plant to the house. I am sure there are other variations as well, so calling the florist directly will allow you to do what is appropriate for the situation; a local florist will be familiar with the requirements of local churches and funeral homes.
posted by TedW at 4:51 PM on January 12, 2014

When I worked for the florist my manager was Catholic; I can't remember hearing that flowers weren't allowed in the church. Could be though-most of the time flowers went to the visitation and around here that is many times held in the funeral home itself. But the advice to call the florist is spot on-they will know the customs of their local area.

One other thing-it is my understanding and experience that you do NOT send flowers to a Jewish funeral. I called a Jewish friend of mine and doublechecked, of course. I was told that a memorial donation to the synagogue or of course to a cause favored by the deceased would be more appropriate. If anyone Jewish could weigh in on that that might be a good thing for anyone else accessing this thread later.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:14 PM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some R.C. churches might have such a policy, or if the church was already decorated for a recent/upcoming holiday then they might not have had room! My church covers the front of the altar for a few weeks around Christmas with poinsettias, for example, and near Easter the place is really decked out. Where would they put a funeral wreath?

(Then again, our pastor is pretty awesome, and I know he would never turn them down, but would instead find a place for them somewhere. My in-laws' pastor is far less warm, though, and I can totally see him scowling at a florist's deliveryman and telling him to take his dumb flowers get lost.)

If the deceased got especially good care (e.g., hospice) somewhere, you might send them flowers as a thanks and then a note to the family to mention it. But you would have to know a lot about the situation.

(To the O.P.: my condolences, and my compliments for being so throughtful during a hard time.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:58 AM on January 13, 2014

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