The Jehovah's Witnesses, a global Christian organization, are known throughout numerous communities for their public ministry and their separateness from certain holidays. They base their beliefs and customs on the Bible, and their funeral customs are no exception. At a funeral for one of Jehovah's Witnesses -- which they often call a "memorial service" -- it's common to see a special arrangement of flowers.
Beliefs About Flower Arrangements
The Witnesses believe that flowers are parts of creation and should be appreciated and highlighted, and so they make flowers parts of their lives. At their memorial services, they view flowers as something that brings honor and dignity to the deceased person and to the occasion. But a time when protocol would call for not having flowers at a funeral, Witnesses say, is when having flowers would give the impression, because of local customs and culture, that they are participating in a pagan ritual.
Protocol For Family
Family members of the person who's died should respect any wishes that he's put in writing regarding how the memorial service should be conducted -- including the arrangements for flowers. If there are no written instructions, then the most immediate family members, typically, are responsible for making funeral and flower arrangements. Sometimes, though, the family might be too broken up to handle that responsibility, and so a family friend might then make the funeral and flower arrangements.
For Other Witnesses
Other Jehovah's Witnesses would follow similar protocol in terms of flower arrangements -- by respecting the person's wishes and their shared spiritual beliefs. The person responsible for making the memorial arrangements might delegate the responsibility for making flower arrangements to a man or woman who is a florist or who has a talent for arranging flowers. Following this protocol helps the Witnesses create a dignified and organized memorial service.
Those interested in providing flowers for a Witness funeral can check for any newspaper obituaries for specific direction, or try to contact the family. In some cases, the Witnesses are more than happy to accept flower arrangements from non-Witness community members for a memorial service. Or they might accept flowers on an individual level. One example of this is the community support given to a Witness family whose daughter was murdered in October 2012. The Witnesses accepted a flower arrangement from a local florist for a public memorial service, and gave thanks to all who sent flowers to the family.
- JW.org Online Library: Christian Funerals - Dignified, Modest and Pleasing to God
- JW.org Online Library: Led to the Creator by the Beauty of the Truth
- JW.org Online Library: Widows and Widowers
- JW.org Online Library: How Should Bible Teachings Affect a Christian’s Attitude and Practices Regarding Funerals?
- JW.org Online Library: Delegating - Why and How?
- OregonLive: Whitney Heichel - Family Holds Public Reception in Her Memory
- OregonLive: Thanks to the Community From the Family of Whitney Heichel
- "Watchtower" Magazine; When Someone Dies, Is It Proper to Give Flowers to the Family...?; October 15, 1991
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images