When someone close to you dies, your life is suddenly filled with having to make arrangements: a coffin, cards, flowers. These are important decisions to make in a short, very sad period. So we asked florist Paul Wijkmeijer to tell us all about funeral flowers. Hopefully his tips will help you make important flower choices.
‘Funerals are so special,’ says Paul. In his shop Klavertje Vijf in Haarlem he regularly creates funeral arrangements. ‘Everyone has their birth story and their departure story. It’s unique for every one of us, and you only have one chance to tell it well.’
‘Flowers tell that story. So I make something unique for each person. I don’t have a book of standard funeral arrangements that people can pick from. I think a personal approach is very important. When relatives come to me, I asked them all sorts of questions about the departed. What sort of person were they? I note down all sorts of facts about their character, hobbies and other details. I then translate that into a feeling, and I take that to the flower auction. Sometimes I also gather flowers and plants from the deceased person’s garden. The colours and shapes of the flowers that I use tell the story: for example, for someone who enjoyed dancing I might make something cheerful, something bouncy. When I present the family with the funeral arrangement, I’m also giving them my feeling for the deceased. At that moment I can let it go.’
‘Everyone has their birth story and their departure story. It’s unique for every one of us, and you only have one chance to tell it well.’
No rules or boundaries
‘What’s important when selecting a funeral arrangement is that you find a florist who feels right or with whom you already have a bond. Also be true to yourself: there are no rules or boundaries that you need to stick to when choosing funeral flowers. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no etiquette and you can use any flower in any colour. Flowers tell someone’s story: let that be the key. And ask your florist what’s possible: I’ve made a small bouquet for the deceased to hold, or I provide attractive loose flowers that people can place in the coffin when saying goodbye.’
'Flowers tell someone’s story: let that be the key.'
Funeral flowers after the ceremony
‘In the case of a cremation, and that’s increasingly common, I always ask relatives what they want done with the flowers afterwards. They can be left at the crematorium, but I can also place them in the family’s garden. I recently suggested dismantling a funeral arrangement here in the shop, together with the deceased’s family. I then turned the flowers into small bouquets as a memento for friends and neighbours. And it’s always nice to bring a couple of flowers home after the cremation to place in a vase.”
The most important tip when choosing a funeral bouquet or arrangement is to choose a florist at the time of mourning who is willing to think along with you. At such a tumultuous time it’s good when someone with experience can make some suggestions so that you can reach worthwhile decisions together.
The funeral arrangements shown in the photos were created by Paul Wijkmeijer of Klavertje Vijf in Haarlem.