Saturday, April 7, 2007

floral arrangements

After the twins died, the house was full of flowers. For a week or two, they arrived almost daily, bulky, wrapped in plastic and mounted on green foam bases, the more expensive blooms augmented with ironic stalks of babies breath.

They horrified me. I imagined their leisurely withering, mirroring the babies' slow descent into death. They reminded me of a painting by Georgia O'Keeffe, juxtaposing a lily and a skull. Or of Flemish still lifes rendering silver bowls of overripe and bruised fruit, surrounded by hovering flies and meant to symbolize mortality.

I couldn't bear them. I stuffed some of them into the garbage can under the sink. But I gave most of them to the woman who cleans the house. I wonder what she thought and what she did with them. Whether, like me, she threw them away or whether, for a little while, her kitchen table was crowded with the bright masses of all those bouquets.

13 comments:

Aurelia said...

I had some of those...I kept a few flowers out of the larger arrangements, then tossed the rest.

I didn't really know what to do with them either, but I figured no-one knew what to do for us, so I just accepted them. I buy people groceries instead, or meals.

JuliaKB said...

The two things I liked that people sent (as opposed to brought) were the plant that seems impossible to kill and edible arrangements-- fruit cut and arranged to look like flowers. My daughter and her friends had fun eating those, and demolishing them was strangely satisfying.

Lori said...

You know, I was always taught by my mother to never send flowers to the home after a loss. Her reasons were exactly what you expressed. She said that anyone coping with the loss of a loved one should not also have to tend to flowers and watch them wither around them. She taught me that one should send a living plant that could be transplanted to a garden, to contribute to meals, or to donate in their loved ones name. I have a wise mom.

Sara said...

We felt the same way. It was freaky to watch flowers die. We will keep the plant we got from the nurses at the hospital. All the other flowers were the only ones I have ever received that I ever attempted to keep alive.

I will only ever send food.

LeRoy Dissing said...

I agree with you all on this one. I never understood why a person would send flowers to someone who just lost a loved one. The food is probably as good an idea as any...or just presence in some cases.

BasilBean said...

I have one plant that is still alive--a jade plant.

All of the vases of flowers made me cry each time they arrived and I just hated going to the door. I agree about how it felt to watch them die.

And on top of it all, one of my cats ate part of one of the flowers and almost died. This was a sucky way to find out that plants in the lily family can cause liver failure in cats.

My sister and her husband came over with groceries and cooked us meals as well. This was the most helpful.

Rosepetal said...

I appreciated getting the flowers as it meant that people were thinking of us. For me it was infinitely better than the silence of others. (Which is still enduring from some .... ex... friends)

niobe said...

At least in theory, I appreciated the flowers, the cards, the food, that people sent or brought. It's just that their physical presence was a constant reminder of my loss.

It's absolutely true that people really don't know what to do -- and something is better than nothing. But what I really wanted was for them to have had no reason to be expressing, in whatever way they could, their sympathy.

delphi said...

Our house smelled like a florist shop in those first 3 weeks. It was totally bizzare. I love flowers, but taking care of them and throwing them out as they faded was time-consuming and stressful. It is probably a good idea not to send flowers - I now send a package of thank you notes and stamps so that it is easy for the bereaved to thank those people who DID send flowers (and tell the recipient NOT to send me a thank you note!).

vixanne wigg said...

Aren't you Jewish? Tsk. Tsk. MOTs should know better.

Catherine said...

My office sent flowers to the hospital. I left them at the nurse's station and issued a directive...no flowers please...if you want to "do something" donate to a designated charity. All I could think was that the damn flowers came in a pretty green glass vase. I could never use that vase again. Never.

Monica said...

I couldn't agree more. I never send flowers, but instead a plant, the hardier the better, and it a pot that can be reused. At Jimmy's memorial we just left the flowers and the funeral director told us they take them to the nursing home (which is equally sad I guess)

charmedgirl said...

oh god the flowers....
i didn't give a damn about the withering and dying. what pained my bones was the fact that they were in pink and purple and should have come because my baby LIVED.

yuck. i think i only like flowers when i buy them myself.