If only they knew

Charles Cowling



Funeral flowers skipped for landfill at Coychurch crematorium. Why don’t they compost them? Because they’re full of wire and oasis; it would take too long to deconstruct them. 

Which is why natural burial guru Ken West calls this ‘grieving waste’. 

Hat tip to James Leedam for this wretched pic

6 thoughts on “If only they knew

  1. Charles Cowling
    james showers

    I have never known anyone return to the crem to ‘view’ the flowers after the funeral.
    The grotesque rows of blooms in plastic and s/s nameplates, are not nice.
    We suggest hand tied bunches, flattish on the back, and – like others above – take them to the gathering afterwards, or to the Hospice/Care home.
    Garden flowers rule.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    Katie Deverell

    Great another bug bear of mine being aired! I often talk to people about using garden flowers or having a spray with long stems that they can take home and put in a vase. My Mum does the flowers in her local hospice and all the ‘flower ladies’ bemoan the expense and waste of wired short stemmed floral tributes they just have to throw away.A plea for seasonal flowers and foliage too! If a favourite flower is out of season it can still be incorporated through designs on the order of service, a photograph (we once had a large pic of bluebells for a lady who loved them) or even scent. So much of this is about going along with what’s been done before rather than being thoughtful and creative.

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    Liz Mowatt

    Powerful pic but what a shame the skip says ‘recycling’ !!

    I think a simple posy of garden flowers is beautiful but as Kingfisher suggests, a Tribute Card created in memory & displayed at the funeral in a recyclable ‘Tribleau’ is a far more fitting farewell & far more cost effective too.

    Crem staff hate the floral tributes, the waste & the mess and it’s sad that the flowers used are often on their last legs as they only have to look good for an hour or two, thus rendering them unfit for ongoing pleasure if they are kept at all.

    I went to a burial last year and we were all handed a sunflower before the funeral & some of us chose to throw our stem into the grave and others kept them and took them home. I thought this was really lovely.

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    James Leedam

    Our custodians subtly give back flowers set in blocks of oasis explaining that it is better for the family to take them back with them to decorate the house or venue for the post funeral gathering. They suggest leaving a few choice stems for the grave digger to put on the grave. People understand when you explain that the frames, trays and wrappings are not compostable and are not good for the sheep to eat.
    We also suggest to families that they could offer flowers from one or two of the arrangements for people to throw into the grave instead of the traditional handful of dirt (another environmentally good way to dispose of the flowers).
    Regular funeral directors brief the families beforehand and informed florists create really beautiful natural, biodegradable alternatives. Flowers from the garden are best of all – really special.
    We don’t have grave markers or vases, which means that we don’t get the great volumes of flowers that traditional cemeteries and crematoria have to deal with. Many good cems and crems do strip and compost. I think that Coychurch were simply having to deal with a post-Christmas mass.
    By the way, I do have to praise Coychurch for the high standards of maintenance in their gardens.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    This might be a good image for Liz at A Giving Tribute to use. Have any readers come across her business yet?

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling
    Kathryn Edwards

    Great image! Very educational.

    If only people would think through the essential pointlessness of flowers at a cremation.

    * * *

    I was at Coychurch in the summer for the disposal of my aged cousin. Stupid ignorant Effcare bitch replied to my request that my humble organic infrastructure-free posy would join my cousin in the flames by saying ‘NO’.

    Charles Cowling

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