When Deborah De La Flor, AIFD, PFCI, heard about the horrific mass shooting last week in Parkland, Florida, she could almost feel her heart breaking for the victims, their families and friends.
Within hours, she was pouring her grief into floral designs, including a wreath and 17 rose bouquets, one in honor of each victim.
“I felt compelled to do so,” said De La Flor, who owns De La Flor Gardens in Cooper City, Florida, less than 30 miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the shooting. “I [felt like] I couldn’t do anything to help — all I could do was to create something out of flowers, as flowers always sooth our souls.”
De La Flor delivered her designs to a makeshift memorial near the school and has also worked this week with the Florida State Florists Association to try and reach the mayor of Parkland, to offer assistance, including funeral designs for grieving families.
Flowers have been a constant at many of the vigils and memorials held after the shooting, and De La Flor said she’s grateful for the small measure of comfort they are providing to the community.
“There has already been a huge memorial of thousands of people at a candlelight vigil,” De La Flor noted on Monday. “There have been 17 crosses on the lawn [of the school] and many, many flowers are being placed by individuals. The power of flowers is beautiful.”
Industry members have expressed similar sentiments and reached out to their communities to organize in the aftermath of other recent mass shootings, including the shooting last year on the Las Vegas strip, at Pulse Night Club in 2016, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
Seventeen people were killed in the shooting this year on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are now organizing for stricter gun control laws, with visits to both the state capitol this week and, next month, a march in Washington, D.C.
Read one florist’s powerful take on how flowers can help a community draw comfort and heal after a tragedy.