To Say Farewell, Not Goodbye

“When words are inadequate, have a ritual.”

                                       by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Various cultures have used plants and flowers to denote the changing of the seasons, to symbolize the cycle of birth and death. Like our bodies, plants and flowers do not last forever. But the symbolism can be more than just meanings and metaphors. It can be a language. The variety and color of flowers throughout the ages have had a specific link to the end of life experience.  Plants, also, have played a significant role in expressing cultural traditions and caring thoughts.  There are many websites devoted to the history of this important subject which will help convey your personalized message.

We bring something tangible like plants and flowers to a funeral service to express what is difficult to put into words.  It conveys sympathy, love and respect.  It is has become part of our culture to share this ritual which provides a certain warmth in spite of the sadness of death. There is a certain harmony and beauty that plants bring to a funeral and somehow in honoring the deceased makes it feel a little less empty and depressing. Family and friends sometimes choose to cherish the memory of their loved one with memorial plantings.

Fresh flower arrangements or plants are a welcome remembrance at a memorial service.  In commemorating our loved one with an everlasting celebration of life, in lieu of arrangements, the planting of a special tree, spring blooming bulbs, perennial garden plants and even the promise of a garden plot allows a healing way to perpetuate the memory of those whom we have lost. We can take comfort in this unique gift of life.  As the plants and flowers grow and multiply, we are reminded of how our love has grown and multiplied in our hearts and memories. These traditions and rituals, however chosen and shared, are a way of saying farewell, not goodbye.