It has been a tradition for years for the spouse to have a floral pillow placed near the head of the coffin at a funeral. The 'pillow' can be a pillow or heart shape. It is the last thing the loved one 'gives' to the husband or wife that has passed away. It is a symbol of rest as a pillow on a bed is a restful place to lay one's head. It can be made with fresh or silk flowers. Plan what type of flowers to use. The coffin pillow usually has one solid colour for the background and a centrepiece of roses or the deceased favourite flowers. Flowers that represent the couple's wedding flowers are sometimes chosen as a special memory tribute. Pillows are used at nearly every funeral. Children may place them for a parent, parents for a child, siblings for a brother or sister if there is no spouse. It is also a tradition for the 'title' of the person to be written on the ribbon with glittered glue or a pre-made sticker. Husband, Wife, Beloved are a few of these titles. The family can choose to have it buried in the coffin or placed on the grave. Some cemeteries do not allow floral pieces to be left on the grave for more than a day so this helps determine what to do. If the person has died during the winter and the burial does not take place until spring the pillow can be kept for a grave decoration if it is a silk floral piece. If it is real, the flowers can be removed and redone with silk florals. It is a lovely focal piece for those who find looking at the flowers helps during a very difficult time of loss.
Prepare the foam piece. Take ribbon and attach it at one top corner on pillow foam with a florist greening pin or a 2.5 cm (1 inch) piece of wire that is curved with two "legs" that can be driven into the ribbon and foam. The pins must be 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) away from the edge. Hold ribbon in and finger pleat by overlapping about 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) of ribbon over itself and push in a wire pin to hold pleat and drive it into the foam. It is important to make these pleats so that the ribbon will have a ruffled appearance around the foam shape. Continue pleating and pinning 1.2 to 2.5 cm (1/2 to 1 inch) around the shape. Corners will need to be pinned two or three times to create a curve with the ribbon.
Silk floral piece: Cut carnation stems to 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inch). Push stems into the foam starting at the top of the shape and fill in the foam piece leaving an opening in the centre measuring 10 to 12.5 cm (4 to 5 inches) wide and long. When done, set the pillow aside. Real Floral piece: Work in a cool area. Cut the blossoms off of the pom stems leaving a little over a quarter inch of stem. Take a wooden toothpick and push it up into the stem hollow carefully until the flower is firmly on it. Push the blossom-topped toothpicks into the foam covering the surface except for a 12.5 20 cm (5 by 8 inch) opening in the centre area. This will take a lot of blossoms and about an hour to do. When done, set aside.
Prepare the flowers for the pillow centrepiece. Real flowers should be checked for any bruised petals, pluck them off and set on work table. Carefully push floral tubes in the opening in the foam Three flowers should be placed diagonally with blossoms pointing toward the upper left hand corner. Push two or three more flowers on the diagonal pointing toward the bottom right hand corner. Remaining feature flowers may need to be but so that they are no more than 12.5 cm (5 inches) tall with tube. Push them into centre between the bottom of the other stems. Silk flowers will be placed in the same fashion.
Push in filler flowers. Push the wired ribbon bow on a stick in the middle of the featured centrepiece flowers. Write the endearment or title on a strip of ribbon with glitter glue or use a pre-made sticker. Attach this to a wired stick and push it into the foam near the bow. Adjust so the word shows up nicely.
Prop the pillow against a box or vase to view it's overall appearance. Fill in any gaps where foam shows with background flowers. The funeral home should have an easel that the piece can be set on. Call to verify this.
Stagger heights of background flowers slightly.
Fresh flowers need to be kept in a cool place and it is best to do them the morning they need to be at the funeral home. Prepare the foam with ruffled ribbon ahead of time.