Everyone has their breaking point. As human beings, we’re only capable of mentally/emotionally handling so much. About mid-April, I hit that point.
I was already expecting April to be a stressful month: My grandma was moving into an assisted living facility, and there was a lot of family drama surrounding that. My house is in the process of being sold, and there were inspections that needed to take place, and negotiations that needed to happen. My inexperienced Realtor managed to make a mess of more than a few things, and it ended up costing me (and adding to my stress). My six month visit with my doctor led to a biopsy, which led to the news that I’ll need a minor medical procedure next month. I’ve been training my replacement at work, while simultaneously learning my new position. The stress of everything that’s been going on means that my reflux/stomach issues have been out of control, which led my doctor to schedule an endoscopy next month.
When my sister’s fiancée passed away, I tried to minimize everything else that was going on so I could concentrate on what was important. There were travel arrangements to be made, work to be taken off, paperwork to be sorted through, and people to be notified. Since the services were being held so far away, we decided to hold a small Memorial for his friends and co-workers locally. We also felt it would help my sister’s two young sons find some closure, since they didn’t go with us for the services. While we were away, I made arrangements for the Memorial. My sister reached out to the funeral home there to have an obituary printed in our local newspaper that would include information about the Memorial.
Having never done this before, we weren’t sure what we should do for the Memorial. Should we provide beverages? Snacks? What would people do? We decided the best bet was to have things setup similar to a Showing, where people could stop in after work, pay their respects, but not do anything formal. We’re all introverts, and no one really wanted to do speeches or anything like that. His family had prepared a video for the Showing, and gave us a copy to use for the Memorial. My sister made picture boards to set up throughout the room.
As we got closer to the date of the Memorial, I realized the one thing we hadn’t considered: Flowers. I’ll admit, floral arrangements are about the least frugal thing there is. They’re ridiculously expensive, and in the end, you have nothing to show for them. But I knew that it would seem like something was missing if there were no flowers. And flowers are a huge deal to my sister: She broke up with a guy a few years ago because he didn’t buy her flowers for her birthday. She had made several comments about the flowers at the funeral home; How she liked the arrangements his family had chosen, how his employer had sent several nice arrangements. And, since people had already sent flowers for the funeral, I knew there would be no flowers at the Memorial. So, I decided to order some.
I decided that I wanted three arrangements: One traditional (but not too large) funeral arrangement for my sister, and then a smaller arrangement for each of her boys. They’d both spent the past week and a half with their Dads, and I wanted to make sure they knew that their grief was not being overlooked. There is a small floral shop called Steve’s Flowers and Gifts not far from my house; I’ve used them numerous times, and they’ve always been fabulous. But, with everything that was going on, I didn’t really feel like talking to anyone, and their online selection is limited. So, I went the inexpensive route: I found the website with the least expensive selection, and placed my order one day while eating lunch at work.
A few clicks, and it was done. A funeral arrangement and 2 “any occasion” arrangements. Except, it wasn’t as easy as I expected. The system kept giving me errors when I tried to have the smaller arrangements sent to where the Memorial was being held. No big deal I thought, I’d have them all delivered to work, and take them myself. Except, I was leaving work at 1:00 pm on Friday. So, I paid $4.99, per arrangement, to ensure they were delivered before noon. Plus $14.99 per arrangement for “handling”. My inexpensive flowers ended up costing me $164. Ouch!
Noon that Friday came and went, and there were no flowers. Sometime past 1:00, the two smaller arrangements showed up. I’m not sure of the exact time, since the delivery person just dropped them out front without anyone signing for them. When I opened the packaging, they weren’t at all what I was expecting. I had ordered one with wild, colorful flowers for my wild and colorful nephew, and one with more traditional, primary colored flowers for my older nephew, who loves comic books. The colorful flowers ended up being brown and orange, and depressingly wilty, and the primary colors were hot pink and fluorescent orange. And they were TINY.
I called the florist listed on the cards to inquire about the third arrangement, and was surprised to learn that they didn’t have an order for those. As it turns out, when you order flowers online from ANY of the big online floral companies, they consider each arrangement a separate order, even when all ordered together, and most often send each order to a different florist.
By this point I was in a panic, and running late for a 1:30 meeting with an inspector at my house. I left with my 2 disappointing arrangements, and headed to the house. An hour and a half later, I finally had time to call the online company I had placed the order with. I wasted time while they called around to find my missing flowers, discussed me going back to work (which was 45 minutes away from the Memorial, where I was heading) to possibly meet the florist, and ran through all their policies and procedures.
And finally, I broke.
I no longer cared which florist made the error, or what their policies were: I ordered 3 arrangements from them, paid extra to have them delivered by a specified time. They didn’t deliver on what I paid them for, and I wasn’t happy. They made me late for an appointment, and added stress to an already terrible day. I wanted my money back. I spent the next 15 minutes asking to speak to a manager about 50 times. I never did get to speak to a manager, but finally, after being put on hold for what seemed like the 100th time, they agreed to give me my money back. So long as I brought the two smaller arrangements back to work with me on Monday, so that florist could retrieve them. Fine.
So there I was, at 3:00 pm on Friday, with a Memorial at 6:00 pm, having went through all that stress over flowers, and nothing to show for it. Honestly, part of me felt a little bad for demanding all of my money back. But then, they didn’t deliver on their promise. It wasn’t long after that I got a call from work; The big floral arrangement had finally arrived. I cried.
Tears in my eyes, I headed out to Steve’s.
As usual, they were wonderful, and I was kicking my cheap self for not just calling them to begin with. On a Friday night, 2 and a half hours before closing, with High Schoolers trotting in to get their prom corsages, the wonderful girl at Steve’s helped me through my order, which they would have ready for pickup in an hour and a half. Just enough time for me to run some errands, come back and get the flowers, and then get to the Memorial and setup before everyone got there. It cost me a little more: $175, as compared to the $164 I planned on spending. But, the arrangements were HUGE! And ended up being exactly what I needed: A big funeral arrangement in masculine colors (something that I hadn’t considered, but I’m glad the florist suggested), a smaller arrangement in primary colors for my older, more serious nephew, and a wilder arrangement for my wilder nephew. The smaller arrangements were at least twice the size of the ones I’d ordered online, and much more appropriate for the boys who were getting them.
Yes, I spent a small fortune on flowers, and completely stressed myself out in the process. Flowers at a funeral are a tradition that many people are starting to see as an outdated waste of money. And maybe they are. But I could see the relief on my sister’s face when she saw the flowers, and with tears in her eyes she whispered that she was worried there wouldn’t be any. It was important to her, and that made it worth it.
– Cindy W.