Blumen für die Toten

Cemeteries are often filled with floral offerings of love and remembrance. Have you ever wondered why it’s customary to leave flowers on a grave? Long before the practice of embalming became the norm, people would gather flowers around a corpse to mask the smell of decay. Since families typically displayed the deceased inside the home, an event known as a “wake” in Western culture, flowers made the process more bearable. Once the stench of deathly rot was no longer an issue, the act of flower-giving remained as a staple of the mourning process. Instead of hiding offending odors, the flowers took on a symbolism of respect, remembrance, and love.

We are quick to shower our love and respect upon the dead. Why are we not as giving when it involves those who are still among us? Perhaps if we gave kindness and compassion to the living just as we give flowers to the deceased, our society wouldn’t be such a terrible place. Lay a flower upon a grave, and a kind word or deed unto the world.

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