Ten Inexpensive Alternatives to Sending Flowers to a Funeral

funeral flowers

Romantics will tell you that fresh flowers are perfect objects of condolence because they symbolize the beauty and brevity of life; allergics will tell you that they would prefer their sniffles and tears at a funeral to be from grief. Whichever position you hold, I hope you’ll agree with me that fresh flowers can cost a lot for the amount of time they last.

When the deceased was well known, a grieving family may receive so many flowers that they hardly notice the particular arrangement you lovingly selected. Often, other means of condolence can be better appreciated and less expensive than fresh flowers.

For those who want to stick close to tradition, consider sending a potted plant from your own garden in a basket or pot from a thrift shop; grieving family members can transplant your gift into their own yard and have a lasting memorial to their loved one.

Making a donation to charity is becoming more common; many obituaries will suggest a favored charity to receive gifts in lieu of flowers. If no charity is suggested, be sure to choose one the deceased would appreciate; don’t give to PETA if his favorite meal was surf and turf or donate to a church if she was an atheist.

Consider housesitting during the funeral, particularly if you did not know the deceased well but are close to a family member. Sometimes homes of grievers are targets for burglars who browse the obituaries looking for names of family members and funeral times.

Likewise, many families could use babysitting services. Families with children too small to attend the funeral would greatly appreciate having someone they know to stay with the young ones so that everyone else can attend. If you plan to attend the funeral yourself, offer to take the kids away for a few hours while the adults make funeral arrangements.

Write a letter telling the family how much you appreciated the person who died; a letter works well when you were closer to the deceased than to his family. Tell stories about their loved one that they might not have heard; recall fond memories so that they have an opportunity to smile during a sad time.

Alternately, create a photo collage of the deceased, possibly to display at the meal time for the funeral. A collage gives mourners something to gather near and often sparks memories for those who see it.

Cook a meal for the family. If you don’t cook well, consider putting together a tray of lunch meat (assuming they are not vegetarians) so that the family and those who visit during the days following the death have something to prepare easily when they get hungry. (Food is often the last thing on their minds.)

Offer to do laundry or run errands that need to be done while the family is planning the funeral or managing details of the estate. One fewer thing on a to-do list can be a big relief for someone who is grieving.

Offer correspondence services. If you know the family well, offer to make a list of names and addresses of everyone who sent condolences, to make calls to far-away friends and relatives who might not have heard about the death, or even to answer their incoming calls for a while so they can rest.

Stick around. Mourners often say that the hardest time is after the funeral, when all the commotion has died down and they are left alone. Be sure to check in on a friend who has lost a loved one several weeks and months after the funeral. Call or send cards each month saying, “You’re still in my thoughts and prayers,” or make a point to schedule more frequent visits if your friend now lives alone.

Remember, each person mourns differently. Know the person you are trying to comfort and offer what will be most appreciated. Some will want to talk; others will need some space. If you’re not sure what to do, consider asking your friend how you can best help him or her get through the difficult grieving process.

Image courtesy of the underlord

This entry was posted in Relationships, Saving Money. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Ten Inexpensive Alternatives to Sending Flowers to a Funeral

  1. Fred333 says:

    I like the cook the meal one. I found that food always comforts me in the times of sadness.

  2. Eric S says:

    Your alternative suggestions for sending condolences are very popular and also great ideas. Its a shame that flowers wouldn’t be considered another great thing just because they don’t last that long or they are to expensive. But why does it have to be looked at as a time issue or money issue? For instance your picture of the casket in the photo with the flowers placed around it wouldn’t that have a lasting visual impression on the family versus a plain casket? I would think that the effects would be the same. Your advice for saving money on funerals should be the title of your post. Flowers are a very positive way of sending your condolences and it shouldn’t be looked at as anything else. I have a question do you have any idea why the flowers cost so much for the service? What value do you place on the flowers? How about the value in the design of the arrangement?

    I look forward to seeing your answers.

  3. Mama Sage says:

    My mother told me the most appreciated and thoughtful gift she received was the roll of stamps from an old high school friend. She said the friend was one who realized that money for a new widow can be pretty tight and that although you can have thank you notes included in the cost of a funeral, that doesn’t get them mailed. With postage so high, and flowers equally high, a roll of postage could easily replace the money you would spend on flowers. that wither and fade.

  4. Justa Florist says:

    Any expression of sympathy helps and all of those you suggested are good ones. However, negative comments regarding flowers was not necessary. A memorial service without flowers is very cold and makes a difficult time even worse. I am hoping you receive many floral arrangements for your funeral service to offer comfort for your family.

  5. Mama Sage says:

    I didn’t mean it to come off that I didn’t think flowers were wonderful and appropriate. Some people just don’t like to put cash into something that doesn’t last. For them, there should be other ideas. I try to send a living arrangement when I do send flowers. I don’t like sending something that won’t last. Something the grieving family can take home that continues to thrive and live to me, reinforces that the person will live on in your heart forever. I’m sorry if I made it sound like sending flowers was not something to do. I agree that a service with no flowers at all would be very stark and cold.

  6. Shannon Christman says:

    To Eric & Justa Florist,

    I am in no way trying to suggest that flowers have no value. I recognize the time, effort, and skill required to grow and arrange flowers, and I agree that they are appropriate and appreciated expressions of remembrance.

    I do, however, recognize that flower arrangements are priced high for many people on tight budgets to be able to afford; my intent is to offer alternatives for those people, not to suggest that no one should send flowers to a funeral.

    Mama Sage,

    Thanks for the stamps idea — I love it! I have given stamps as graduation gifts and have seen them given at bridal showers, as well. I think they’re practical ideas for many occasions.

  7. Amy F. says:

    These are great ideas. I never would have thought of most of them. Thanks! I particularly liked the housesitting and correspondence services ideas.

  8. MLH says:

    All of these suggestions were good. My family and I are catholic so I usually go to my parish office and request Masses to be said for the person. The office sends a card with the time and day of the mass to the family and who has requested the mass or masses. This is great if U are out of town or state.
    I go home and mark the dates and times of the masses down and make sure I attend.

  9. K. R. says:

    All of these ideas are beautiful expressions of sympathy. Most people overlook practical gifts.

    My mother gave my husband’s family a candle when his mother passed away. His mother loved to paint and painted a still life of lilacs for my mother for her birthday one year. Appropriately the candle was lilac scented. During special times of the year, my husband’s sister lights the candle in rememberance of their mother.

  10. T Carlson says:

    Why pick on the flowers? The money spent on food does not last as long as flowers. Do people need the banquet after the service? Is anything more than a simple pine box necessary? What about the money being spent to get to a funeral service?

    It does not make sense to say that just the flowers are expensive and not necessary. What about alcohol; what about dining out; are vacations necessary; why not suggest that

  11. sgt peters says:

    i think sending flowers to a funeral is a good thing as i could not go to a close mates funeral but sending a big bunch of flowers was like going for me anyway as im fighting in the war so not like i can just go and come back so flowers yes they cost alot but whats money at a time like a funeral or a wedding rest in peace luke 3 para we all miss you loads mate xxx

  12. Max says:

    I do not think the people commenting on the flower “issue” are flower haters. Rather thsn the fact that for most people there are alot of flowers/plants sent for the funeral as to what else could be done for the family. I like the stamps and other suggestions. Donating to a charity or if the deceased had a medical condition a donation in their name would be a consideration. How about Arbor Foundation to plant a tree in their honor if they do that). Please remember that the plants sent would have to be taken home and cared for. Its not that anybody is against plants/flowers sometimes its the other “small” things that we could do would have a longer lasting effect for the memory of the deceased.

  13. Debi Hester says:

    I read a story in the old Redbook magazine when I was maybe a teenager… I Came To Clean Your Shoes … it described how a friend offered to clean the shoes of the young family who had suffered a loss, which was so thoughtful and just one thing the family had not thought about before but needed.
    Another idea is to offer to take their car to the car wash.
    Any menial task that is often overlooked but necessary in daily life can be a service done to a family stricken suddenly by a loss.

  14. grace says:

    Debi, you said it best. It’s not about what is best for me. It’s about what I can do to be a blessing to someone else. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. MammaB says:

    I never took any of the comment to be negative towards flowers. Some people do not take pictures of the casket. I looked at it as taking each funeral on a case by case basis. I order plants. They do last longer. When you see it at the person’s house when you are visiting, it is a great way to ease into a conversation about the loved one who passed and how your friend is doing. I also like to take food and send notes. It really depends on the person. Just be supportive in your own way. Be there; that is what truly matters. One family of a friend asked me to take photos of all the flowers at their family member’s funeral. They had over 100 bouquets of flowers and plants sent to them. I took pictures of all the flowers and then the card that came attached to the flowers. Put it all on disks for the family. They still mention how much they appreciated the pics three years later!

  16. Kevin says:

    I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers and plants that arrived at my mother’s funeral and appreciated every arrangement. I wish I had thought to have someone photograph them all for me. While I did receive other thoughtful gifts of sympathy, nothing had a more impact on me than the roomful of wall to wall flower arrangements from her many friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *