Studio54-3Flowers can be a great source of comfort to those grieving the loss of a loved one. They brighten and warm a funeral or memorial service setting, adding beauty to an otherwise somber occasion. Flowers also offer a comforting diversion — something to talk about or look at during the visitation. Professional florists can create highly personalized sympathy tributes that depict an aspect of a person’s essence, and this trend of personalization is becoming more and more prevalent in commemorating the life of a loved one.

Contestants in the Society of American Florists’ last Sylvia Cup Floral Design Competition were told that the most recognizable and oldest patron of Studio 54 passed away, and they were asked to create a memorial design piece called, “Let’s Dance the Last Dance Tonight,” for the fictitious Celebration of Life, keeping in mind, she only wore gold. Here is a look at the memorial pieces that got the judges talking.

First Place: Complex swirls of gold snakeskin wire converge with dramatic folds of flax, creating fabulous line movement and the illusion of a shooting star. The celestial being takes flight from a hand-tied bouquet of green hydrangeas, midnight callas and protea in a clear glass footed cylinder. A stream of gold chains and a stream of green hanging amaranthus flow from the bouquet.

First Place by Jacob McCall, AAF, AIFD, FSMD, design director at The Elite Flower in Miami, Fla. Entry sponsored by The Elite Flower

First Place by Jacob McCall, AAF, AIFD, FSMD, design director at The Elite Flower in Miami, Fla. Entry sponsored by The Elite Flower

Second Place: A yellow gerbera bloom stands out among twirls of gold snakeskin wire coils that shimmer inside a clear glass footed cylinder. Hoisted on top, a vegetative platform of leather leaf and ruscus is accented by short bursts of yellow poms and shoots of flax tower above. A pair of yellow gerberas soars over a low-lying pair of yellow gerberas.

Second Place by Derek Woodruff, AIFD, PFCI, CF, owner of the Floral Underground and Fleur Couture Cabaret in Traverse City, Mich.

Second Place by Derek Woodruff, AIFD, PFCI, CF, owner of the Floral Underground and Fleur Couture Cabaret in Traverse City, Mich.

Third Place: Gold snakeskin wire wraps a clear glass footed vase, evocative of a trophy a cup. A cloud of gold wire artfully billows above, while loops of lily grass swirl around. Lily grass strands are tied together by gold wire embellished with a gold teardrop pinhead. Gold teardrop pins also dot the tops of three yellow poms capping a mini silver disco ball cradled by aspidistra, two yellow gerberas and a line of yellow poms.

Third Place by Libbie Deering, CF, designer at Vogt's Flowers in Flint, Mich. Sponsored by Michigan Floral Association

Third Place by Libbie Deering, CF, designer at Vogt’s Flowers in Flint, Mich. Sponsored by Michigan Floral Association

Harvard research proves flowers create calming feelings, feed compassion and ease anxiety and worries. A Rutgers study found that flowers improve our emotional health. The bereavement process is a pivotal time when worry, anxiety and many sad emotions are present. With such compelling research that shows how flowers impact emotional well-being, flowers should be regarded as an essential part of the bereavement process.

Flowers are a thoughtful way to honor a beautiful life. To make your floral tribute particularly special, ask your local professional florist to create an arrangement that fits the deceased’s personality. Your floral gift will surely be noticed and appreciated.

Please describe the most personal floral design you’ve seen at a Celebration of Life.

This is the final post in a three-part series.

Read the first in the series, “Presentation Bouquets for a Dancing Queen.”

Read the second in the series, “Floral Jewelry for a Disco Queen.”