My mother collected turtle figurines. She had hundreds of them. For her service, I placed figurines that she loved from the grandchildren in and around her casket spray and in other floral tributes. Everyone was delighted with the hunt for turtles.

Many years ago, my friend’s father, an avid ice fisherman, died. My friend asked me to make the casket spray for the service, as I knew her father well. He loved fishing, and we collected ice fishing poles, a small bait bucket, an ice hole scooper and fishing hats — one said, “I fish with Grandpa” — to display in the floral tribute. We placed the hats in the center of the design with the fishing equipment sprinkled around. The design included cattails, branches, twigs and moss. Flowers in front hung down with small branches and greens to resemble under the water. We tied small fish onto the ice fishing poles with monofilament line. It was designed for Grandpa.

The tribute drew an overwhelming response from guests at the service. Everyone wanted to know who created it. So many were asking me questions about the design, I was embarrassed to be the center of attention instead of Grandpa. I went outside and debated internally if I should leave.

My friend came out to find me, and I told her my concerns. She said in a nice way, “What makes you think this is about you?”

I asked her what she meant.

She lovingly said, “The tribute is a vehicle to help people communicate.”

I had never thought of it that way. People who didn’t know each other were talking to each other because of the tribute. They were swapping stories. One guest may say, “Did you fish with Grandpa?” The other, “Yes, we were neighbors raising our kids.” The tribute fostered communication and connections.

My mother collected turtle figurines. She had hundreds of them. For her service, I placed figurines that she loved from the grandchildren in and around her casket spray and in other floral tributes. Everyone was delighted with the hunt for turtles.

Flowers provide warmth and bring people together, especially at those times when it is difficult to come up with the right words.

Talk to your local florist. Tell them stories about your loved one. Tell them about your loved one’s hobbies, so your florist can create a truly special tribute. The sharing also will help you process your grief. Your florist will know the questions to ask, give you time to think and process your emotions and come together with the perfect tribute.