Sympathy flowers and gifts do a lot more than add beautiful ambiance to our funeral home, or help families know that someone is thinking of them. (Although both of these reasons are great for encouraging people to send beautiful sympathy arrangements!) In fact, sending families sympathy flowers following a tragic event can actually help to perk up their mood and help them along the path to healing.
To help you get a better idea of the amazing healing powers that sympathy gifts and flowers can bring to grieving families, here’s a look at what science has to say about the matter.
1. Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness.
We all know that flowers and gifts have the power to brighten our mood, but there has never really been solid scientific reasoning or research to back up this notion… until now. Researchers at Rutgers University did a 10-month study which examined the definitive link between flowers, gifts and our mood. In it, they found that flowers not only trigger happy emotions and heighten our feeling of life satisfaction, but they also have an immediate effect on our mood.
“All study participants expressed ‘true’ or ‘excited’ smiles upon receiving flowers, demonstrating extraordinary delight and gratitude. The reaction was universal, occurring in all age groups,” the study found.
Flowers can also affect social behavior in a positive way – far beyond what was believed before. In the case of sympathy and healing, this is likely due to the fact that flowers and sympathy gifts are present for loved ones in a way that a person’s presence can’t be. This is because they’re actual physical evidence of the support and love from friends and family that stays with families after they have left the funeral service.
One professor of psychology, Jeannette Haviland-Jones, put it best when she made the comparison that flowers are the pets of the plant world: “Flowers, like pets, help reduce stress,” she wrote. “And, thanks to the new field of positive psychology, there’s more evidence that positive emotion is healing.”
2. The positive effects of flowers last long after the initial delivery.
As funeral professionals, we have seen that family and friends are sometimes hesitant to send sympathy flowers because they are a gift that “only lasts temporarily.” However, the healing power of flowers lasts long after the last flower has bloomed.
According to the Rutgers University study, “Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. Specifically, study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.”
Many researchers have seen first-hand the long-term healing effects of flowers through sympathy gifts that were sent to hospitals. For example, one study found that patients in hospital rooms that were brightened with flowers and potted plants needed less pain medication, had lower systolic blood pressure and pulse rates, were less anxious and tired, and generally were in a more positive psychological state than patients in rooms without flowers.
In our profession, we are always looking for ways to help family and friends encourage and support the bereaved in the days and months after their loved one has passed. Having family and friends send beautiful flower arrangements or sympathy gifts to the home to help brighten their space is the perfect long-term supportive gesture.
Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, explained, “The morning blahs, it turns out, is a real phenomenon, with positive moods – happiness, friendliness and warmth, for example – manifesting much later in the day. Interestingly, when we placed a small bouquet of flowers into [people’s] morning routines, [they] perked up.”
She also added, “As a psychologist, I’m particularly intrigued to find that people who live with flowers report fewer episodes of anxiety and depressed feelings.”
3. Flowers help forge intimate relationships.
Sending sympathy gifts and flowers is not only a supportive, kind gesture for the grieving family, but flowers can also help to form intimate connections between all family and friends. “What I find interesting is that, by starting the day in a more positive mood, you are likely to transfer those happier feelings to others – it’s what is called mood contagion,” Etcoff explained.
Especially for a family who may not have hosted an open funeral service, or for family and friends that were unable to attend the funeral service, sending sympathy flowers can help to form a connection and show support when the family needs it most. For example, if a family chooses not to hold an open service for their loved one (often at the request of the deceased), that does not mean that they are not grieving or in need of support. In fact, it is likely just the opposite – they need even more support and messages of condolence, since they did not receive it first-hand at the service.
Sympathy gifts do not only have to arrive in the days and weeks following the funeral, either. The anniversaries and holidays that pass without a loved one are also just as difficult (if not more so) for grieving friends and families. It is an extraordinary gesture for friends and families to send sympathy flowers on these important days, to help remind the family that they are not forgotten, and to show support on a day where they may need it most. Therefore, be sure that your ecommerce sympathy store makes families’ home addresses available to people who may be looking to send sympathy gifts. Some sympathy stores even offer a plugin that will allow you to privately store your families home addresses, making it easy for people to send flowers and gifts long after the service has ended, while still maintaining your families’ privacy.
Here at Abbey Cremation Service, we value your family’s privacy and needs as much as you do. Making your families’ important information available to us helps to ensure that we can help family and friends support their loved one, from the day of the service to the many anniversaries and holidays that may follow.
If you have any questions about how you can help to better your families’ healing experience through flowers and gifts, do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time at 1-800-890-9000