When the phone rings in the flower shop, it usually means one thing: a life event has happened.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Eagle’s Hope Blooms Flowers & Things has seen a surge in people wanting to send flowers for one reason or another.
“We’re in the business of emotions. We sell emotions. We help people express emotions with flowers,” shop owner Dorothy Miller told KTVB. “That’s what we do, we get the stories good and bad. We get them all.”
In recent weeks, though, Miller said the calls into the store are missing the usual balance of happy and sad events.
“The other day, from 7 in the morning till about 1 in the afternoon, every single call was a funeral, and every single walk-in was a funeral,” she said.
Handling flower arrangements for funerals is not new for this team, but Miller said the recent COVID-19 surge has changed the volume and types of calls they are getting. More and more, the team listens to tragic stories about COVID-19 deaths in the community.
“The last two weeks, I had two sisters come in and they both lost their husbands within a week,” Miller recalled. “And that was tough. One sister is now trying to support the other sister.”
The emotions the team sees from customers grieving a death is also changing.
“Usually, people will come in and they are sad or they are upset, but the last couple of weeks people have come in and they are mad,” Miller said. “They are just mad at the whole process and the whole thing that’s going on and they just are having a hard time wrapping their heads around, ‘My husband was coughing three days ago and now, he is gone.”
Miller said that for whatever reason, the emotions of it all hit people while they are in the shop.
“A lot of times they come in here and they just cry,” she said. “We just let them sit and cry as long as they need to. We are definitely not grief counselors, but we listen. It’s tough.”
It’s tough in a way that’s different than it was pre-COVID-19.
“Usually we are able to really compartmentalize. You know, here is a happy birthday call, a happy anniversary call, and then a funeral walks in,” Miller said. “Normally we are able to kind of put that into its little place and deal with each one individually.”
However, the stories and emotions add up through a day or a week. The staff really learns about the lives of those lost and the impact that loss has on family and friends.
“We get sad later. We have to get sad later, but it affects each and every person here every time they take a phone call. It’s tough,” Miller said.