Revisiting the Power of the Rose

I met with a new client this week and brought up the subject of his removal process. He described what they did currently, and I suggested a few changes.

After the meeting, I sent him this article. It describes the power of leaving a rose when doing a removal. I wrote this almost 13 years ago, but it’s still relevant today.

The Power of a Rose – originally published July 12, 2009

This isn’t the newsletter I was planning on sending out. Plus, it is two weeks later than scheduled, and for that, I apologize.

Sadly, there was a very personal reason for the delay. On June 27, 2009, my mother passed away. The matriarch of our family, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend to all…was gone.

As a funeral home marketing consultant, I felt that I had a pretty good grasp of the importance of a healing funeral experience. After all, I had worked with leading funeral homes around the country to market and deliver unique funeral experiences.

But it’s one thing to understand the funeral process intellectually. It’s another thing to experience it emotionally.

This painful event has COMPLETELY confirmed my belief that a well-executed funeral experience can be extremely healing for a family.

And it also confirmed my belief that there is a huge business opportunity for the firm that can package, market, and deliver amazing funeral experiences.

Three days before my mother passed, I decided to visit the local funeral home where she had made prearrangements. I wanted to see what they had to offer our family. Did they have a plan? Could they give us the type of funeral experience we needed?

They were a good firm. Not great…but good.

Luckily they were more than willing to add in some of the details that I knew would make a big difference for our family.

One of the details I requested was that they upgrade their removal process by adding three elements:

  1. Drape the standard body bag with a quilt which I handed them.
  2. Make the bed.
  3. Place a live red rose on the pillow.

The funeral director I was working with seemed puzzled by my requests, but since I was the customer, she made careful notes and promised to take care of it.

I learned about leaving a rose on the pillow from my funeral director clients years ago. The majority of the firms I’ve worked with around the country also place a rose on the pillow. Yet industry-wide, it is not an accepted practice.

My mother passed at home surrounded by family. A little while later, the funeral home van pulled up. My family stayed in another room while they took care of her.

The crowning moment was when my sisters reentered the empty room to see the rose lying on my mother’s pillow.

The emotions overflowed…healthy tears that had been chocked back for over an hour came pouring out.

Yes, it was an outpouring of grief, but it was necessary. We had to grieve before we could celebrate our mother’s life. The rose acted as a catalyst to start the grieving process.

Never underestimate the power of the rose…

I asked my sisters later why the rose meant so much to them.

They said….it was a statement of love, and it was alive. They also said that it told them that the funeral home would take good care of our mother.

A psychologist could probably develop a detailed explanation as to why a rose works so well. But I don’t need an explanation. I know it works because my family felt the power of that simple, beautiful gesture.

Many funeral homes spend lots of money advertising that they “care.” But no one believes that kind of self-promotion, so it’s a complete waste of money.

But for less than $1, you can leave a rose on a pillow and demonstrate the fact that you really do care. You’ve made an incredible first impression with the family, and you’ve set the right tone for the coming days.

If you leave a rose now…THANK YOU…you are making a difference.

If you do it sometimes…do it all the time.

If you don’t do it…start doing it. Your families will thank you.

Remember, actions always speak louder than words. Leave a rose on the pillow and let the family know how much you care.

Until next time,


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