Sending funeral flowers to a grieving friend or family member seems like it would be pretty cut and dry, but flowers each have their own meanings, and you don’t want to convey the wrong message. Funeral flower etiquette is much more than meets the eye, but we’ve come up with a short guide to funeral flowers that will help prevent any social faux pas.
What’s the difference between funeral flowers/sympathy flowers?
Funeral flowers are strictly for decorating the funeral home, funeral service and grave site. This type of flower arrangement tends to be bigger, with complex arrangements and large stands to display the flowers on. No card or direct address to those who are grieving is necessary. These flowers should never be sent to the home of loved ones, as it may cause them to be upset.
Sympathy flowers, on the other hand, should be sent to the home of those who are grieving. These arrangements will be small or medium (an ideal size for table arrangements or entryway decorations). These flowers should have a message included that expresses condolences for their loss. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy message. “My condolences” or “My deepest sympathies” will do.
Who should send flowers?
The first part of funeral flower etiquette is figuring out whether you should send flowers at all. Do you need to send flowers? Who should you send flowers to? These are both questions that need answering before you pick out an arrangement and flower type. Anyone can send funeral flowers for the deceased, but family members and close friends should feel more pressure to provide appropriate decorations for the funeral (see section on Casket Flowers).
When sending funeral flowers, make sure to send an arrangement that can be easily move. Those making funeral arrangements may need to rearrange decorations, and they don’t need to be stressed out by a cumbersome bouquet. If you’re not a close friend or family member of the deceased, include a stand with your floral arrangement so it can be moved if necessary.
When should I send casket flowers?
The casket will typically have a single arrangement, and unless you’re the one making the funeral arrangements, you should not send any casket flowers. Those decorating the casket will typically be immediate family members like children, siblings or parents. You can ask the family if you can send casket flowers if you like, but they’ll most likely have picked out an arrangement already. It’s not out of the question to have a single flower incorporated, however, and most requests can be obliged.
What type of flowers should I send?
Standard funeral flower etiquette doesn’t dictate any particular type of flower. As long as the arrangement has a positive aesthetic quality, you can send any type you like. Common flowers sent to funerals include roses, carnations and chrysanthemums, but you can also use more colorful varieties like snapdragons and lilies.
If the funeral service is for a certain religion/denomination, there are a few rules you have to follow:
- Protestant – Protestant denominations include Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc., and funeral flower etiquette is usually close to the standards mentioned above. It’s also acceptable to send food or donations to the family in lieu of flowers.
- Roman Catholic – Roman Catholic funeral etiquette requires flower arrangements to be subtler and more moderate. Flowers that are colorful or very bright aren’t appropriate. Candles and gifts for the casket are also suitable.
- Mormon – Floral arrangements of any variety are acceptable, but they cannot include the symbol of the cross. Including one would greatly offend the deceased’s loved ones and those attending the funeral service.
- Buddhist – The rule of thumb is that you can’t send red flowers or food. Only white flowers should be sent to family members. Sending flowers for the service or grave site isn’t allowed.
- Jewish – Flowers aren’t appropriate for Jewish funerals, but friends and family can send charitable donations or food.
- Hindu – Proper Hindu funeral etiquette dictates that guests are not to bring anything to the funeral. Flowers are only allowed in the open casket when mourners are viewing the body.
- Chinese – White or yellow mums/chrysanthemums are considered the traditional flowers for funerals. You should never wear red or send red flowers to a Chinese funeral, as Chinese culture considers red to represent happiness.
- Muslim – Funeral flower etiquette varies between different Muslim groups. Red roses are sometimes considered appropriate, but it’s best to ask before sending any gifts of flowers. Flowers can be placed on graves after the deceased has been buried.
What do certain flowers mean?
Most people aren’t aware of what types of funeral flowers mean, but those who do will appreciate your gift of flowers if they’re sent with a particular message in mind. Here’s a list of common funeral flowers and what they represent:
- Lilies – Lilies are a widely-known symbol for death and mourning, but the flowers actually represent innocence and purity of the soul.
- Carnations – Different colors have different meanings. For example, a white carnation represents purity and innocence in love, while pink is a sign of remembrance. Red carnations show your admiration for the deceased.
- Roses – Roses evoke powerful imagery, and have meanings as follows: white roses (humility, reverence), red roses (respect, love), pink (appreciation), yellow (deceased was a close friend), and dark crimson (grief, sorrow).
- Gladioli – Gladioli flowers have a large variety of colors, but all of them represent strength, moral integrity and a sincere heart.
- Orchids – Orchids are a symbol of a forever love. White and pink orchids are common colors for expressing sympathy.
- Chrysanthemums – These flowers are considered to be representative of grief and sorrow in most of Europe, but the United States looks at them as symbols of happiness and joy, celebrating the life of the deceased.
Daffodils/Tulips – Yellow variations of these flowers are meant as a symbol of encouragement
- to grieving family members. They also symbolize forgiveness (white), perfect love (red), and royalty (purple).
- Hydrangeas – Hydrangeas represent sincerity and are most commonly given in the spring. They’re easy to take care of, and grieving family members and friends will appreciate the thought.
Thank you for reading! Come visit MeadowLawn, Funeral Home, Crematory and Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas!