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16 September 2010

Ask Mecha Flower Delivery Funeral Etiquette Help OK so my aunt died. Not my cool aunt, the other one. [More:]She was 92 and we were not close so I am probably not as sad as I should be; still, she was my father's sister and I will of course be at the funeral, which is Saturday. And, I mean, I am a bit sad, just not, you know, distraught. She had a long good life.

Here is where it gets sticky. I got a call from one of my cousins - there are six of them, plus assorted spouses, children, etc. - on Sunday night about the death & the funeral plans. I haven't seen or heard from any of my cousins since my own mother's funeral two years ago; we're not a close family. Anyway, my cousin said that the funeral would be Saturday at 2 in the same church as my uncle's was in about five years ago and he would send further directions, etc.

He hasn't. So I want to send flowers and I've googled the church and I think I have found it. UNLESS things have changed. There used to be only the one Catholic church up there - this is way up in the mountains. I have another browser window open right now with some of the least awful flowers I could find ready to be delivered to that address. Do I send them Friday or Saturday? What name do I put on them? Is it okay to just send them to the church?

I don't have any of my cousins' addresses. I called the church and got an answering machine. I know I should call one of my cousins but I hate to bother them at a time like this. Plus, okay, I am a little miffed although not, sadly, surprised (a little judicious facebook stalking just uncovered the fact that one of my cousin's kids got married in the last year and we weren't sent even an announcement) at the lack of directions and I kind of feel like just showing up. I also googled around until I found my aunt's obituary and there is no mention of the funeral, place, time, place to send flowers, donations in lieu of flowers, etc - nothing. None of the standard stuff. So, um, etiquette people, what is my next move here?
I would just call one of your cousins. You want to at least pay respects - it would be strange if they didn't want that.

Some people aren't good at communication I'm afraid.

Ultimately it's not worth any more of your energy or thinking time than necessary.
posted by gomichild 16 September | 17:57
I realize that you are in the South, but man, I wouldn't even send flowers. You're going to be there; you will doubtless help other people grieve and be your regular charming self. And you won't cause a scene or be rude or anything, which is way more than some people can say for family funerals!

Just, you know, hand out kleenex and help pour punch and be a good person.
posted by Madamina 16 September | 18:32
Can you find the telephone number of a local-there flower shop? They might know the details.
posted by rainbaby 16 September | 19:02
MGL, I'm sorry for your loss. It's always hard, even when you have a little emotional distance.

Rainbaby's idea to contact a local-to-cousins florist is a good one. You might think about contacting the church in question, too, in case someone there can answer your questions --- and especially confirm that it's the right place.

A thought about your cousins' failure to call back with directions and info: after my father died, I was The Competent One, handling many of the phone calls and telling people I'd return calls... and plumb forgetting to return calls to far too many of them. (One of my siblings took over the task of calling Dad's dear cousins... and plumb forgot to get back to them with memorial service info, too. I'm grateful that it wasn't me, but the point is that it could easily have been, through no malice or dislike, just through sheer grief-stricken scatterbrain.)

Like us, your cousins may have had the best of intentions and just couldn't live up to 'em.

Obviously, you know your own family best, and you know if this is characteristic of your cousins or if there's a long-standing dynamic like this... but it's just a thought, in the hopes that it might soothe over some rough feelings. I'm so sorry that this inconvenience and confusion is added to the sorrow you're already going through.
posted by Elsa 16 September | 19:20
Sorry for your loss, MGL.

As for the flowers, check with the local funeral homes. There are usually two or three in a medium-sized town, and once you track down the right one they will know:

(a) if there is a wake/viewing in addition to the funeral
(b) if there is a wake, where it is and when

Most wakes are held at the funeral homes themselves, and that is also usually the best place to send flowers. Because the church isn't necessarily involved in the logistics -- transporting flowers and whatnot -- the funeral home is the best contact in these situations.

posted by brina 16 September | 19:49
Okay, I sucked it up and called my cousin. Thanks, y'all. It was not as hard as I thought it would be.

I tried the local florist first but the only one in town has closed up shop, so that was a dead end. It's a small town. Then I put myself through all these weird hoops and called the church (answering machine) and then googled and found the nursing home where my aunt lived the last 10 years. Then I ended up watching their TERMINALLY CREEPY sales video; whoever persuaded these people that showing a completely empty retirement village was a good idea? It looks like a scene from after the neutron bomb or something. Called them only to find out that they didn't even know when and where the funeral was. I am actually a bit surprised at this level of disorganization. She's been in hospice care for the last month so it's, um, not like this was unexpected either. But Elsa, you're right, and they understandably are torn up, I'm sure. I know I was a mess when my mother died.

So I did call my cousin and got confirmation and then I sent flowers to the church - not this or this, although I was tempted, how could one not be? Just. so. awful. - but something smallish and tasteful. I believe we are now covered and then we will see just how drunken and mad the wake gets. We are Irish after all. It is more or less expected.

It is odd how I only see my relatives at funerals now. This is the last of my parents' generation except for my Mom's sister, the cool aunt, the artist. Time passes. Sigh.
posted by mygothlaundry 16 September | 19:52
On not preview, thanks brina! I didn't even think of the funeral home and that probably would have been the thing. I still don't know if there will be a wake or where it will be although I suspect either at the same country club / bar where my uncle's was or at my cousin's house. That seems to be the usual deal with my family.
posted by mygothlaundry 16 September | 19:56
Also, as I seem to have missed this while playing my "dude, I'm callous and poorly mannered" thing up there: MGL, I'm sorry for your loss.

I hope you and the people around you can share some good times together and maybe make some plans to get together in the future (if that's what you want). We've already made one visit to seldom-seen cousins, and it's been neat learning about a branch of my partner/fiance's family that I would otherwise never meet.

And if nothing else (uh oh, here come the cranky pants again), it'll be a unique anthropological experience.
posted by Madamina 16 September | 20:20
and then I sent flowers to the church - not this or this, although I was tempted, how could one not be? Just. so. awful.

Snort. MGL, I do love you.
posted by Elsa 16 September | 20:25
Wow. Somehow that cross looks like it came from the Carmen Miranda School of Floristry.
posted by Madamina 16 September | 21:02
I'm sorry, MGL....and nthing madamina.
posted by brujita 17 September | 01:43
Hello? Funeral director here!

Yes, always call the funeral home for arrangements (plus, they can tell you the awkward stuff, like whether guests are invited or not).

Best wishes to you and your family. 92 is a good run.
posted by ColdChef 17 September | 07:45
Sorry for your loss, mgl.

is it wrong that when I saw the title header, my first thought was "hmm, in that situation I would just totally MeFi-stalk ColdChef!"
posted by lonefrontranger 17 September | 09:40
I am always a phonecall or email away. Any time of the day or night.
posted by ColdChef 17 September | 10:55
posted by mygothlaundry 17 September | 11:36
And I fixed that. Phew. Found the one surviving local florist and she's delivering something that sounds almost as godawful as those other things. Let us hope it is not a complete aesthetic crime against humanity.

Thanks, ColdChef!
posted by mygothlaundry 17 September | 11:45

Is it the home or the church that's too far for delivery? If so, maybe you can get the flowers sent to the nursing home, if it's more centrally located.

In your shoes, I wouldn't worry too much about the flowers, though. If you can't get 'em delivered, then send a note by mail. It means so much.
posted by Elsa 17 September | 11:48
Oops, never mind! Glad you got it sorted.
posted by Elsa 17 September | 11:49
They're not refunding your money??? No, I don't think so.

Thanks for linking the wreath. If I ever know someone whose racehorse dies, I'm all set.

I'm sorry about your aunt.
posted by theora55 18 September | 12:01
That cross is a thing of beauty. Terrible beauty.
posted by halonine 18 September | 21:07
Ask MeCha || Is anyone else weirded out by this?