Although customs vary depending on the family’s religion or ethnicity, funeral arrangements of condolence flowers or basket gardens often are sent to the church, the funeral home, or the family’s home. (Notable exceptions are families of the Jewish faith. It has become somewhat more acceptable to send condolence flowers if the deceased was Jewish, but the Jewish faith does not generally express condolences with flowers.)
If the obituary specifically asks for donations to a charity in place of flowers, it is good etiquette to follow the wishes of the family.
When sending funeral flowers, be sure both your first and last names are on the card accompanying the flowers, since the family may know several “Dawns” or “Jasons.”
Visit our Sympathy Flower Store to find an elegant bouquet to express your condolences.
Funeral Flowers — Selecting Appropriate Condolence Flowers
Traditionally, flowers are a way to represent growth, new life, and movement forward. The natural beauty of condolence flowers at a funeral, and the home of mourners brings a sense of warmth and comfort to the environment.
Today, flowers are not mandatory for funerals, but they are an appropriate way to express love for the deceased and concern for members of the family. Flowers can be ordered from a florist and delivered to the funeral home or residence.
Flowers for a funeral should arrive at the funeral home before the first visitation hours, so the arrangement is there to greet the family when it arrives. If time does not permit delivery before visiting hours, you can send flowers or plants to the home of the bereaved. A potted plant has an obvious symbolic meaning because it will continue to live and grow.
Traditional Funeral Flower Arrangements
Flowers for funerals are generally categorized by their function. Here are a few of the more commonly used type of arrangements:
- Wreaths – These are circular floral arrangements, which represent eternal life.
- Floral arrangements – There are many types of floral arrangements, from cut flowers to basket and container arrangements. See examples of Sympathy Flower Arrangements.
- Sprays – These are arrangements that allow viewing from one side only.
- Casket sprays – These are usually organized by the immediate family and sit on top of the casket.
- Inside pieces – These are the items placed inside the casket, such as small floral sprays.
Sometimes Condolence Flowers are Not Appropriate
There are instances when flowers are not appropriate. Such as when the family requests that donations be made instead of flowers. Many religions and cultures welcome flowers for the mourning ceremonies. However, some do not traditionally receive flowers such as the Jewish and Islamic faiths.
Jewish law has always demanded immediate burial – within three days – so condolence flowers weren’t necessary. It is still not customary to send flowers, although they are not forbidden. Some Jews have begun to send flowers for Reformed Jewish funerals. Instead of flowers, it is common to send fruit and food baskets to the home of the bereaved during the mourning period.
At Islamic funerals, some people send flowers, and some do not. It is, however, common to place individual flowers on graves along with palm branches and other greenery. Flowers are not a traditional part of Hindu funerals, but they are not unwelcome.
At Buddhist funerals, white or yellow flowers are acceptable, but red flowers are not.
Refer to the Funeral Customs section for more information.
Choosing the Right Flowers
There are no particular types of flowers or colors that should be sent at funerals or homes of the bereaved. There are, of course, many favorites. Carnations, chrysanthemums, gladioli, lilies, and roses are popular choices for funeral flower arrangements. White lilies represent peace, and red roses are renowned for expressing love. If the deceased always loved being in the garden and had a favorite flower and color, it would be very comforting for the bereaved to receive an arrangement that includes these varieties.
Refer to the Flowers for Asian Funerals page for more details about appropriate flowers in Chinese cultures.
Shop our collection of Funeral Flowers to find the right expression of your sympathy.
Particular types of flowers and their colors can send more specific messages. Here is a guide that will help determine if your choice of flowers is saying what you want it to say:
Better Things to Come:
I love you:
Lilies of the Valley:
Return of Happiness:
Innocence/"worthy of you":
Roses (red and white):
Roses (deep pink):
Roses (light pink):
Roses (coral or orange):
Roses (red & yellow blends):
Roses (pale colors):
A Single Rose:
Hybrid Tea Roses:
"I'll remember you":
A Crown of Roses: