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In Lieu of Flowers – Florists Unite

Posted on November 7th, 2018


In Lieu of Flowers is perhaps the most detrimental 4 words in floral business

Conveying compassion and respect for one’s passing is traditionally defined by sending flowers. The utmost disappointment is that customers take “In Lieu Of Flowers” literally. We understand it does say “In Lieu Of Flowers,” however,  that in no way means the family does not want flowers at the viewing/funeral service.

As floral professionals you understand how somber a viewing/ funeral service would be without flowers. The added beauty of sympathy flower arrangements is there to offer comfort to the visitors and also pay tribute to the deceased.  The terminology of “In Lieu Of Flowers” has caused an uproar in the floral community as it should, this is awfully mistaken too many times by customers.


The Future of In Lieu Of Flowers

What is a floral business owner to do with the phrase “In Lieu Of Flowers?” We do not pretend to have all the answers, however, maybe it’s time once and for all the floral industry with working with funeral businesses to boycott this phrase altogether.

Although many florists have expressed their frustrations with local funeral homes, the “In Lieu Of Flowers” phrase offers a direct message not to send flowers and undermines the floral business. This is absolutely unacceptable, besides that, the true meaning of giving flowers is lost here. Regardless if someone wants to convey sympathy with flowers or not, there is no reason for the subliminal message!


Educate Customers

So how can you educate customers? First is take the steps to post a blog on your floral website explaining to customers what “In Lieu Of Flowers” really means.  Have a small write up on the sympathy section on your website as well. Don’t be afraid to also post on social media as well!


Write A Letter To Your Local Funeral Homes

This may or may not work, however, all it takes is one funeral home director to understand the importance of re-wording “In Lieu Of Flowers” and make a difference. Changing wording to “Send flowers and donations here,”  “Memorial contributions can be sent here, ” completely changes the playing field.

There are so many different phrases that can be used to convey a less discriminatory message. What the floral community is asking for is not to make people send flowers for funeral services, but to leave tradition alone and allow people to make their own heartfelt decision.


Why Flowers Are Important At Funeral Services

There truly is no other sentiment you can send for a memorial service be it, charity donations or even money itself that can express as many emotions as flowers do.

Since the beginning of time flowers have been displayed for the deceased as a symbol of condolences, sympathy, and love. Thousands of years ago, they were used for their wonderful fragrances and soft beauty. In this time of mourning when words are forgotten the flowers offer comfort to its surroundings. Flowers also represent one’s life’s cycle, from one’s birth to one’s passing.

Taking the flowers out of memorial service will make the ambiance look dim and murky. The flowers are there to create an environment which is more comforting for people when mourning.

We could go on and on why flowers are so important at memorial services, the simple reason is flowers are natures miracles, and florists are natures miracle workers. Nothing in this world expresses the same sentiment as flowers do when given as an expression of sympathy. Let’s encourage people to respect tradition an appreciate flowers.


What is wrong with doing both?

Back in the day, some may remember, it was acceptable to give a monetary donation and flowers, a mass card, food and flowers for someone’s funeral service. No matter how you looked at it flowers works hand in hand with any other expression of sympathy.

Why are things different now? Do people have less money? Why not donate to desired charity and send flowers together?

In certain circumstances, if you cannot beat them, then intrigue them! Perhaps the future of the floral business is to partner up with charities.  Sympathy flowers can be sent to the memorial service and florists can also donate to the respected charity on the customer’s behalf.

Although this may sound far-fetched, there are ways to accomplish this by directly participating with well-known cause affected charities

Florists, Has “In Lieu Flowers” hurt or has had a very little effect on your floral business?  Please share your feedback in the comment section below. If you have any questions please post below as well!


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25 thoughts on “In Lieu of Flowers – Florists Unite”

  1. Carol Fuller says:

    This is a major Pet Peeve of mine and has been since that phrase was first used YEARS ago. It SO harmful to our industry and has cut our funeral business tremendously. Talking with our local funeral directors does not seem to have any effect. Perhaps getting a petition together and presenting it to the Funeral Directors Convention would be more appropriate. I honestly don’t think the Funeral Directors realize the impact those words have on our businesses, but would love to see a change made that would enable us to conduct our business without their interference.

    1. Brett says:

      I never send flowers… Bottom line is that donating money to a good cause is more comforting to many than flowers that will just die. I get the phrasenin lieau of flowers hurts the flower business.. But when someone says in lieau of flowers they mean just that. They want the money youd spend on flowers to go to something else. This article is shady as h*ll trying to say it really means buy flowers and contribute to the persons cause. Id rather find a cure for a disease or pets get rescued any day than get flowers and i think thats the trend among younger generations. Trends change and some businesses have to shrink or change their model to accomodate. The phrase isnt hurting your business its customers wishes. The phrase is just a reflection.

  2. steve says:

    mourning is spelled mourning

    1. Idalina Floranext says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂

  3. James says:

    Make Contribution to :

  4. Cory Michaelson says:

    As a funeral director and owner of a flower shop I will tell you that it is typically not the funeral director initiating that message. For years my staff has guided families on the importance of allowing individuals and businesses to grieve publicly by sending flowers with their name proudly displayed on the card for others to see. We try to have families understand that other people outside the immediate family also have to grieve and for many, the public display of grief and support shown in floral arrangements, is how they put meaning to their grief and in so doing diminish their own grief. For us, it is not about the financial impact, it is about meeting the needs of many different people. When we do that, the business follows and takes care of itself. A petition to funeral directors or blaming funeral directors is only going to drive a wedge between two businesses that rely on each other. Please think deeper about what is really going on and how to help families understand the purpose and value of flowers and that it is not a waste or a shame to see money spent on them.

    1. Marie says:

      Thank you, Cory. As a florist I was put-off by this article.

      Funerals, weddings, new babies, grad parties, and all other events are emotional times. We, in the floral industry, must remember that we are providing a service to express emotions. If people chose not to send flowers, so be it. If someone wants to send flowers, wonderful. If someone would rather people send $300 to a charity, why is that a bad thing? Don’t make this about profiting on someone’s loss. It’s very cold-hearted. When making and delivering Memorial and funeral arrangements you’re providing a service that most people would rather never have to deal with. Don’t make it harder than it is by acting like you’re the victim.

      1. Carol says:

        Unfortunately funeral directors are steering the bereaved families in this direction (at least in our area) so that they do not have to deal with floral deliveries. I am happy to see that you are so prosperous, however funeral business has been the backbone of the floral industry for many years. This article is not about cutting out the charities – it IS about NOT cutting out the florists. When the public sees “in lieu of flowers” in the obituary, many assume no flowers are not wanted, and are astonished when they get to the funeral to find how bleak it is without them. Flowers at a funeral show the love and respect of a person’s community for the deceased. There is a place for both charities AND flowers but the point of the article is NEITHER should be excluded.

  5. James says:

    This should make the difference to family and friends that want to sent Flowers to a Funeral when it is appropriate to do so Flowers should not be Eliminated from a Service do to and
    illness or accident that takes the Life of a Family Member.

  6. James says:

    At My Mothers Service We received Flowers and in the card it would say a donation was made to the American Cancer Society in Eve’s Name. That message with the Flowers meant
    so much to Us. I believe that People that inclined to donate Money will do so it don’t have
    to take away from in service to a Love One

  7. Those words let people not want to send flowers. In Jamaica I find that some Funeral Homes are having their in house florists and so give a complete package with everything. Thus cutting out florists altogether.

  8. Rhonda says:

    When my mother passed we used the phase “In Lieu Flowers” not because we didn’t want to receive flowers but because she was only 44 and very active in many activities in our small town. We still received many arrangements but they were smaller and included a donation as well, this kept the small funeral home from being to overwhelmed with flowers even though it was full. This is how it should still be.

  9. Lyn says:

    Yes, this has hurt our businesses as well, put so has, gravesite funerals,memorial service and the one day visitation, service. It also sends a message that it doesn’t pay to send flowers because it’s a very simple service. The funeral service have changed for us as the funeral directors. This is not also the only area that floral has taken a hit.

  10. Lyn says:

    Yes, this has hurt our businesses as well, put so has, gravesite funerals,memorial service and the one day visitation, service. It also sends a message that it doesn’t pay to send flowers because it’s a very simple service. The funeral service have changed for us as well as the funeral directors businesse.This is not also the only area that floral has taken a hit.

  11. Brian says:

    When my Mother passed the funeral asked me how to handle in lieu. My answer was Please State Contributions may be made to The Loves & Fishes Food Pantry. This allowed a choice as how to handle the situation. in lieu of really states Don’t send flowers. I also disagree with the above statement, I believe ILO is initiated by the funeral director, we know how upset and unsure a grieving family member is. Do you really think the first thing on their mind is in lieu of flowers, please! Having helped set up flowers in a funeral home I know how such work it is. But that comes with the job. I Think if we really want to change Funeral Directors minds a petition won’t do it. But did you know that in the Catholic Church every member is given the right to be waked in church. Taking a chunk out of the funeral directors income by limiting the Charge for Room Rental Might make them realize how much they are costing us.

  12. fay says:

    The way I understood this In lieu of flowers was supposed to be originally for presidents, celebrities, high profile people, where huge amounts of flowers ended up and these parties being unable to handle the volume. So this opened the door for all other organizations to get on the band wagon, heart, cancer etc, and this finally dwindled down to the average joe,
    people who didnt want the bother of handling the flowers from the church to graveside or home if a funeral home wasnt involved doing this job.
    the added beauty of sympathy flower arrangements is there to offer comfort to the visitor and also pay tribute to the deceased

    1. Brett says:

      The “average joe” as you phrase it probably realized hey thats a really good idea… Why not put the money wasted on flowers to good use. I dont think they use the phrase to copy high profile people thats ridiculous. Besides flowers have never comforted me. Especially not once living flowers that have been killed and made into a wreath and way overpriced. Id much rather look at live ones in a park.

  13. Here is a very simple solution. Simply say “In addition to Flowers”

  14. Steven says:

    I hate the phrase as well…. but in the same call to end this phrase must be accompanied with a call to florists to create consistent quality creative designs and charge the prices they need to to do such designs. Otherwise.. if we are sending the same quality as can be purchased at the local grocery store.. what’s the point?

  15. Patti says:

    The problem isn’t with the phrase “in lieu of”, the problem is with people’s understanding of the phrase. “In lieu of” sounds all fancy and important. That’s what happens to phrases that are French/Latin in origin. I mean, hors d’ouvres sound more impressive than appetizers or finger food? The truth is the phrase “in lieu of” just means instead of, or in place of. It is simply a suggestion, not a command! But many people see the phrase “in lieu of flowers” and think that flowers are not wanted. The truth is, flower still need to have a presence at the service. I’ve known several people who fear there will be no flowers at the service they are planning – just donations made to a charity or organization the person wants to recognize. Instead of accepting “in lieu of flowers” as a death sentence, use your selling skills and turn it around to in lieu of donations, send flowers!

  16. Vicky says:

    Thank you very much for the help full content… 😉

    1. Love these flowers…………

  17. Whoever wrote this article we would describe him/her as a “numpty”. A rather stupid fellow. We say family flowers only. Donations to whichever charity. This is about dealing with customers at one of the most terrible stages of their lives. Why would you want to make a fast buck from them?
    The article stinks and gives a bad impression of being a florist and the floral business. Most of make a living well enough out of the the happy and good occasions that people live through and celebrate, thank God. Without having to fleece the dead and their relatives.

  18. Patricia Sosag says:

    I am confused as to why all the comments are over a year old and I just received this post. (?) SAF (Society of American florists) has a fantastic letter and color page explaining the value of flowers present for a service. I made several copies and am sending all over town to local funeral homes, check it out

  19. The White rose is also perfect when celebrating your tenth anniversary with the elegant red and White rose flower bouquet to show her that that the great passion you had when you started the journey is still burning. You will get all sorts of anniversary flowers no matter the number of years you have been together.

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