Friday, 19 February 2010

The Practicalities of Winter-time Grave Tending

There is no end of advise on dozens of subjects when your child dies. Advice on when and how to go back to work. Advice on how to arrange funerals. Advice on how to begin putting your life back together. Here's the thing, no one has published any advice on what flowers to put on the grave during winter-time when the average bloom has the life expectancy of a mayfly.

Rach and I like to put fresh flowers on Emma's grave. Some people use artificial flowers, I understand why, it's practical and its cheap, that said it's not for everyone and we prefer the real thing. The thing about real flowers though is that they don't last, especially with snow and frost. In my life up to this point I have had no interest in flowers but since Emma's funeral in November I've had to become a horticulturalist trying to figure out what goddamn flowers will stay alive on her grave. If you find yourself in a similar situation I have three words for you: tulips, tulips, tulips.

Rach loves gerberas and roses. For those of you not florally inclined, gerberas look like big daisies that come in different colours. For Emma's funeral wreath we chose white roses and gerberas, but even in an oasis they just didn't last. We are fortunate that where we live there are 2 great florists and a weekly market with a good flower seller, and in the town, so we have had the opportunity to try just about every bloody flower type you can think of. Based on this extensive flower testing I am convinced that in the event of a nuclear apocalypse the only things to survive will be cockroaches and tulips. Cockroaches obviously are not suitable as a grave adornment so my recommendation remains tulips. Tulips come in just about every colour and in this especially snowy and cold winter can last outdoors up to a month, yes a MONTH!! Jesus, what are these things made of? Hyacinths are also pretty good, they can last at least a week, perhaps two and the florists today advised that chrysanthemums are pretty good as well. We bought some today we'll see how they last.

We put some fresh tulips on Emma's grave today as well as basket of planted bulbs, something which will loke nice for a little while. We got them from the florists. The florist who did the arrangements for Emma's funeral. They remembered doing the arrangements, they also remembered Rach and I from when we got buttonholes for a friends wedding in the summer when Rach was still pregnant. Rach was upset in the shop and we were both upset at the grave. Sometimes it's just little things that set us off. That said I have been in tears each and every time I've been to the grave.

To end on a light note I'll tell you about probably the only thing that made us chuckle when we were at our worst. When we were arranging Emma's funeral, the lady at the funeral directors wrote down "gerbils" for the arrangements instead of "gerberas". Visually gerbils as part of a bouquet made us howl.


  1. Brilliant. Thank you for the tip, I was wrestling with this myself.
    Although a wreath of gerbils is also tempting.

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  3. Hi Mark. Thanks for the tip. When you say fresh tulips do you mean cut flowers in an oasis or vase or something? My baby girl is buried 1.5 hrs from where I live so flowers that could last a month would be fantastic , wow!!