Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sympathy Flowers: Part II

In my last post, I talked about my feelings about creating designs for sympathy occasions. (Sympathy Flowers: Part I).  This week I want to look at the types of sympathy orders we work with.  Each type of  order brings it's own clients, etiquette, and needs.

First are clients who need to send a design for the funeral / memorial service of a colleague or acquaintance.  These are the easy orders to fill.  I can guide you through the choices with effenciency.  For most of these customers, the need is to let the family know you are thinking of them in their time of sorrow.  The floral piece needs to match the style and budget of the client, and the enclosure card can be fairly simple.

Next are clients needing to send something  for the funeral / memorial service of a close friend.  These orders are more personal to the sender.  They need to reflect the person being remembered as well as letting the family know you are thinking of them.  And the enclosure card is usually a bit more personal.  Keep in mind, for most sympathy pieces sent to the actual service (as opposed to the home), the card is open for the public to read.  If there is a personal message, you may want to send a private card as well.

Finally, there are clients who are immediate family members of the deceased.  These are the clients actually planning the service.  They are usually those who were the closest to the deceased and they are in the most pain and stress.  It's their job to finalize all the details.  And it's my job to make the floral pieces as personal and as meaningful as possible.  It's also my job to ease whatever stress I can during this time.  This means being professional, taking all the time needed to reach a decision, reassuring the client that all the details will be handled according to their wishes.

No matter what type of client you are, our job remains the same:  delivering beautiful flowers to remember a beautiful life.

Comments always appreciated...what experiences have you had in ordering sympathy pieces?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sympathy Flowers: Part I

Every year there are a couple of slow periods.  Whenever these times hit, it's time to drag out the projects I've been putting on hold, pull up the list of people I want to contact, dust off the back burner.  This year, I decided that it was time to focus on a slightly different area of the floral world: sympathy work.

This is definitely a subject we don't talk about very often.  But as an event florist, it's something I  have to think about.  So I decided to write about it.

I recently sat down with John Beard of Beard's Chapel to discuss ways of working together and to find out what he needs from the florist he works with.  Very quickly, I realized we share the same outlook towards our chosen fields: it's our job to make things easier for our clients.  

I was asked today, 'What do you like best about wedding work.'  My answer...'Reducing the stress, seeing the look in a client's eyes when I've made a difficult day easier for them; creating something beautiful to bring something special to their day.'  After I said it, I realized that same is true for sympathy work...making a difficult day easier by creating something beautiful for them--that's what I like best about ANY floral work.   

Flowers are a way of saying 'I remember your loved one' to the family of an associate and  'I'm thinking of you' to a family friend.  But most importantly, flowers are a way of honoring the memory and celebrating the life of a loved one as a person by bringing personality to each floral piece created and by helping the family through a really tough time.  And if I can do that for someone today, then I count today as a successful day.