Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lessons from a Funeral

I've lost relatives, and I've lost dear friends...but never a member of my immediate family. 

There's a difference.  The loss is felt so deeply that you almost cannot bear it.

But like any of life's experiences, there are things you learn, things that you take with you.
These are a few things that I am taking with me.

It is good to work with people you know and trust.  They felt my pain, and to them the process was more than just "business as usual".  It was so comforting to know my Mother was in the hands of the very best, and that the celebration of her life would be done with the careful attention it deserved.

Share.  Share stories, laughter, tears, hugs, kisses.  I won't hold anything in.  I won't be afraid to let people know I share their pain.  I know they need to hear it.   And I will give lots of hugs, not just one.  The one I am hugging will let me know when it's okay to let go.

If I send a card, I will put a return address label under my signature, and make a note about any memorial gift I've included or am sending.  That little gesture will mean so much to those who are opening cards and trying to keep everything straight. 

If I can attend the funeral and reception, I will stay as long as I can.  But if I can only pop in for a minute...I will.  I know now that it means the world to the family to see me, even if it is just for a moment.   I know that they won't remember that my visit was brief....they will remember that I took the time to share their loss. 

If I am able to make a meal for my friend, I will be sure to make it in a disposable container, and to send along a pack of containers for freezing smaller portions. 

And, as always, I will send flowers.

Working in the floral industry for over 40 years, I have assisted many families who have lost a loved one.  I have held their hand, given them hugs, shed tears with them. It's humbling to be asked to create a floral tribute that has so much meaning to the family. 

And then, for the florist, the time comes when you have to create a tribute for one of your own.   I was fortunate...there was no thinking involved.  My mother had already told me what she wanted for her spray...and had given me permission to embellish on her wishes.  Thank you, Mom.  And thank you for guiding my hands to do the work.  There was no pause...just a steady flow of inserting stems, each going exactly where it needed to be.  And when it was done, it was complete.  No fussing, no fixing, no question.   Just an ache in my heart.

The piece that was created to accompany the spray required no thought.  My mother loved pink carnations.   A simple flower.  A humble flower.   And in mass, a beautiful presentation filled with the beauty that comes from simplicity, and a whole lot of love.


♥ MJ

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Being a saavy flower buyer!

Whew!  The fast and furious week of Valentine's Day is over - every single order I received was made and delivered on time (one of the benefits of doing business locally!) and not a single complaint was received (another plus to doing business locally!)

In the days after the holiday, I took some time to research the facebook pages of the online flower order gatherers such as 1-800-Flowers, FTD, Teleflora, Just Flowers, Blooms Today, ProFlowers, and the like.  The complaints were never ending.  Flowers never delivered, flowers frozen, poor quality, non existent customer service, and totally unsatisfied customers.  It sometimes amazes me that these deceptive companies are still in business.  Yes, I know there will always be those who like the convenience of ordering online in the middle of the night...but oh, how I wish they knew how much extra they were paying for that convenience...and what it would eventually cost them in the end!

Those of us who have spent our lives in this industry and who love our work are deeply concerned when we hear and read about these types of complaints.  It upsets us when anyone is unhappy with a flower purchase, but we get even more worried when we continually see these deceptive online businesses taking money from our customers and delivering poor quality, or worse not delivering at all.  An unhappy customer (either purchaser and recipient) is one who may just stop purchasing flowers altogether, and that affects all of us in the industry.

I have repeatedly said that one should always take the time to get to know your local florist.  Develop a relationship, and allow them to get to know what your preferences are.  Call them directly.  Stop in and visit occasionally.  Let them show you new and interesting product.   Then, if and when the time comes when you need to send flowers out of the area, let them recommend a florist for you to call directly (or allow them to place the order on your behalf).  You will not only avoid those excessive online fees, but you will be dealing with the designer who will actually create and deliver your floral gift, and ALL of the money you spend will go into the beautiful flowers!

So you still want to place your order online in the middle of the night?  If you must,  just be sure to do a little research and make sure the website you are ordering from is a real brick and mortar florist and not an online order gatherer.  Never pick a shop from the top of the search page that appears in the colored block - those are always order gatherers.   Look for a local street address and phone number.  Look to see if the designs pictured are those created by the shop, or if they are cookie cutter photos provided by one of the wire services like FTD or Teleflora.   Read the "about us" page and look for some history that will let you know who you're dealing with.  And when you get through the order process - be aware of any additional "service fees".  Real florists don't charge those!

Flowers are a beautiful addition to your home, and to your lifestyle. 
They make you smile!  They make you happy! 
And we want you to be happy!