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Flowers Don't Last; Contributions Can

December 30, 2007

Several years ago I was asking seeking advice on what to get a girlfriend for her birthday of some 20-something female in a gift shop . I said something about flowers and she said,funeral-wreath.jpg “Hell, don’t bring flowers, bring me beer. If you’re going to give me something that’s going to be gone in week, at least bring me something that will give me a buzz.” I instantly knew I had asked the wrong person for advice and that the gift shop probably needed to suggest she find a new place of employment–like a convenience mart or Waffle House.

Flowers have their place. Flowers should adorn our homes and the eyesight of the women we love. And they belong at funerals.

Up to a point.

My wife was reading the obits this morning and read one where the survivors had asked that in the place of flowers, donations be made to the American Diabetes Association. And I remembered what a trend this has become in the past couple of decades. When people first started making this request 20 years ago or so, lots of people were uncomfortable with the idea. Flowers were the conventional way to say, “I loved that person.”

Today, however, it’s rare that an obituary doesn’t suggest a charity for donations in the place of flowers. Most of the charities are either those the deceased have worked for or those that address diseases that took their lives. Maybe it was just me, but at funeral I recently attended the survivors had not suggested a charity and I thought it an odd oversight. We’ve come a long way as a culture.

Somewhere between the anti-romance of that stupid gift shop girl and the sentimentality that builds mountains of flowers on the dead is a place where we can think about”need.” A contribution to a charity will affect people far longer than the flowers that will soon wither.

No, I’m not directly talking business or marketing here. But this example perfectly illustrates the mindset of Pastoral Marketing and the search for Consequential Value: what do people/what does the world really need? What really honors our lives? A short-lived hit to the emotions, or an investment in those who live?

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 2, 2008 10:23 pm

    Thanks for the post

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