Spiritually Speaking | Send flowers

Written by By Sister Mary Thill. Posted in May

Cut flowers can increase compassion and kindness and decrease anxiety and worry, a Harvard study showed. People who lived with fresh-cut flowers for a week reported feeling less worried and less depressed while at home than people who lived with a decorative candle.—AARP Magazine, 
March/April 2007


I hope this article doesn’t get me in trouble with the candle makers of the world, but I actually have proof that fresh-cut flowers do increase compassion and kindness and decrease anxiety and worry. I know this is true because this is what happens to me when I put flowers on the dining room table almost every Friday afternoon when I come home from grocery shopping. The first thing I look for at the grocery store is the outdated flower display and hope to find some lovely roses or daisies or daffodils at a hugely discounted price. More often than not, I do find something looking not so fresh and the price is right so I put them in my cart and go about my shopping, enjoying the lovely bouquet even while I’m shopping. Often other shoppers will comment on the flowers or at least smile at me and the flowers as they pass us by.

This talk of flowers brings me back to the first time I received a dozen red roses from my parents for my twenty-first birthday. My very first bouquet of flowers! I even have a photo of me standing by the bouquet in the convent chapel where I was living at the time. For some reason, we had a tradition of giving any flowers we received to Jesus in the chapel. When I give our elder Sisters a bouquet of flowers, I insist that they keep the flowers in their room so they can feel less worried and less depressed and help their anxiety and worry to lessen. Jesus doesn’t have these issues, so I think it’s okay to break with the tradition. Most of the Sisters agree and enjoy the flowers all the more.

In my work here at the Medical Center, I also experience how compassion and kindness increase and anxiety and worry decrease as I walk into a patient’s room where flowers and balloons are shouting get-well wishes and sometimes birthday wishes and often a thinking-of-you message. The patient seems to share in the happiness brought on by someone’s thoughtfulness, and I sense that the staff also benefits from seeing such caring gifts left behind when the person leaves. It’s also nice to see a bouquet of flowers at the nurses’ station with a note praising and thanking the staff for their kindness and compassion. When an employer sends flowers to her/his administrative assistant, when employees send flowers to their boss, when a husband sends flowers to his wife, and when a wife sends flowers to her husband (yes, she can do so), the smiles and joy that follow are precious memories being stored for the future.

So send me flowers while I’m still here and can enjoy the sight and smell. We often joke about how we want flowers while we’re living and not when we are in the coffin where we will not be able to enjoy them with our bodily senses. Maybe that’s where the decorative candle comes into play. Our friends and family will be able to keep the candle as a longer-lasting reminder of us as the fresh-cut flowers fade and die, that is, if anyone sends them.

As spring and summer bloom, enjoy the beauty of the flowers and remember to share some with others who you know are worried and depressed and need a pick-me-up. It will help you feel less worried and depressed as well as increase your compassion and kindness in unmeasurable ways. ❦

Mercy Health snow winter 2018