By Maria Yagoda
Updated August 01, 2016 03:45 PM
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Credit: Lisa Thornberg/Getty

Florists encounter people at their happiest and their most vulnerable, as people use flowers to both celebrate and commemorate loss.

The messages they write to accompany bouquets can get very dark. Seventeen florists share the saddest ones they ever wrote:

1. “A young woman came in asking for lilies and rosebuds with baby’s breath. My mom put it together for her and asked what she wanted on the card. The woman replied, ‘To Lily, the breath of your baby shall forever bloom, in our hearts and yours.’ She told my mom her sister’s daughter died of SIDS the day before.”

2. “The saddest one I had was a phone order from a gentleman who wanted a bouquet of flowers with the note ‘Sorry I ruined your life’ to his ex-lover.”

3. “We had a standing order for a weekly bouquet. This was an exclusive shop in an affluent area, and the gentleman clearly had enough money to send something showy to his beloved wife on a regular basis. What struck me was that he would personally call in a new poem with each order. And these weren’t Shakespeare quotes, by any means. All were summoned from the depths of his own creativity. I was tasked with painstakingly transcribing his weekly poem onto the card. They had been married for a long time, and you can imagine how these poems would have devolved into Cornyville. Yet, he never missed a single one, while I was there. We all marveled at how he always took the time from running his large company to write a lovestruck message to his wife every week. He never had a secretary call in the order. I was always touched to take the call from that old guy. Then one day, a woman called in with the poem. It was quite a bit different (perhaps lifted from a Hallmark card). As I filled out the order form, she explained that her father had experienced a debilitating stroke, and she would be providing the poetry from that point forward. The deliveries stopped shortly thereafter.”

4. “I was working for a florist, and it was around Father’s Day. For one order, I was instructed to write, ‘Dad, thanks for keeping the abuse physical’ on the card.”

5. “‘Thanks for the herpes.'”

6. “When I was in high school, my best friend’s mom owned the local florist shop. We lived in a small town, so everybody ordered all their prom stuff from her, and she’d be up for days just filling orders. My friend and I decided to help her out. A little back story: I had been dating a guy for about three years. He was the first boy I ever loved. Anyhow, he said that he couldn’t go to prom this year because his family was going out of town to visit his sister who was away at college. But then, as I’m filling orders in the flower shop, I pick up the order form from none other than my high school sweetheart. Except it had a different girl’s name on it. That was the first time a boy broke my heart and I’ll never forget it.”

7. “I once saw a card in some flowers at a little boy’s gravesite. Scattered around it were some of what I assume we’re his favorite action figures in life, and on the card (presumably from a brother or friend) it said: ‘I keep coming to play with you, but it just isn’t the same.'”

8. “One had a note to the effect of “Happy Birthday Mom” (written in Polish – it was the only language the woman spoke.) Then, below in English, was: ‘You made my life hell, I hate you, but you can’t read this part, and I needed to finally say it.'”

9. “This isn’t so much sad as it is confusing … but when my friend started dating his boyfriend, I think they were going through a lot. He called a florist and asked her to write, ‘Just us two.’ His boyfriend received the flowers saying ‘Justice II,’ with no name signed. He wasn’t sure if someone was after him.”

10. “‘Only here for a day, however his memory will live forever.’ This was for someone’s baby who lived for nine hours after birth before passing away.”

11. “My grandmother was a florist for many years. I used to go to the greenhouse with her all the time and watch her make these amazing flower arrangements. One day, I was visiting and she’s just got done making a stunning bouquet with a small card in the center. The card read, ‘Eric, I’m sorry to have heard of your recent tragedy. You’ll forever be missed by us all.’ Turns out Eric was just getting married – the arrangement was from his drinking buddies.”

12. “A man paid for flowers to be left at his wife’s graveside once a month. He always wrote, ‘I love and miss you’ on it. It wasn’t the saddest thing to write, but just the idea of it was. He always called to make sure we didn’t forget, too.”

13. “I had one that said: ‘To honor your dying wish, I am putting this truth on a card for the world to see. I never loved you, and resented you in my life. Now that you are gone, I feel a certain relief. There, I said it. – Mom.'”

14. “A dude was writing something to this Russian mail order bride he was courting, and it was kind of sad. He sounded like a really sweet guy, and those things always seem like such a scam.”

15. “The saddest was a delivery of yellow roses I made to a notably attractive young lady. The card said: ‘I hope he’ll love you as much as I did – and still do …’ She just stood there, reading the note back to me, and then she burst into tears. It’s something that made a lasting impression on me.”

16. “I ran a gift shop at a hospital. I got an order for a very elaborate bouquet, Here’s what they wanted the message to say: ‘Your loss is heaven’s gain.’ It was delivered to maternity.

17. “My brother has always been a sarcastic guy. He had a friend from church who was hospitalized due to some lifelong health complications. The guy has been hospitalized a lot his life, and it was expected he’d be out in no time. He sent flowers saying, ‘I bet you a $100 you’ll come out of this fine, and we can go get high and hammered with the money.’ The flowers arrived two days after he died.”

All posts have been edited from Reddit for length and clarity.