Respecting the Dead: When to Remove Flowers from a Gravesite
It's quite customary in nearly every culture, to place flowers at a gravesite during the funeral. At the actual service, it's not uncommon for a large number of people to bring flower arrangements and the family may also have a funerary wreath or arrangement created to remember their loved one. The question remains, however, when to actually remove these flowers.
It's important to follow the rules of the cemetery first of all. If they don't allow flowers to remain after the funeral, then it's a good idea to know this ahead of time. You can ask people to refrain from bringing floral arrangements and make sure that you remove the funerary wreath when you leave.
Some cemeteries have rules as to how many flowers can be placed on a grave or whether or not they have to be on the name plate. Check with your graveyard before making any decisions about flowers to find out what the rules are so you can pass them on to others.
Cut Flower Removal
For cut flowers, a week after the funeral is a good time to start removing them. At this point, the flowers will be fading and dying. Many cemeteries will have a staff that automatically removes dying flowers, but in some cases, you may want to do this yourself. Many people will show up after the funeral to bring flowers, so these might not be in bad shape yet. However, unless you want to be continuously returning to dispose of the blooms that have died, then it's better to remove them at the one week point. If you aren`t up to the task or don't want to return to the grave at this point, then have someone else go in your place, or find out if the cemetery will get rid of any dead and dying flowers.
In the case of excessive flowers, you can remove any extras immediately after the funeral, once people have gone. This is fairly common when the number of floral arrangements have spilled off the gravesite and onto the lawn. Since most cemeteries don't allow this, you'll need to get rid of any extra flower arrangements. Simply rearrange the ones on the grave so that the best or most sentimental blooms are still there and then take the rest away.
It's acceptable to remove large showy arrangements from the grave immediately after the wedding, particularly if the flowers are not in a vase. Keeping them fresh for as long as possible by placing flowers in vases will ensure they still look decent a week later when you return to remove them.
Artificial Flower Removal
Many people opt for fake or silk flowers since they will last longer, but these aren't going to stand up to years of weather unscathed. These artificial flowers are often not allowed in more modern cemeteries, so be sure you check the regulations beforehand.
While artificial flowers certainly help keep a grave cheerful for longer, these, too, need to be removed after a time. This type of flower can be left longer, but as soon as it shows signs of becoming dirty or bedraggled, usually a couple of months after the funeral, it's time to retire the flowers.
It's best to clear away any old flowers on a regular basis after the funeral, to keep the grave neat and tidy. Adding fresh new flowers to the gravesite from time to time will ensure that your deceased loved one is remembered and the removal of any old or dying flowers is simply a respectful thing to do.