Ultimate Guide to Flowers for Funerals

Funeral and Sympathy Flowers Guide

Floral tributes have been used throughout history to honor the deceased and express condolences to the grieving family. Choosing flowers for funerals or deciding on the correct sympathy flowers to express your sentiments can be overwhelming during a time of grief. Flower symbolism guides can help convey emotions and provide a meaningful message during a time when words don’t seem adequate.

Types of Funeral Flowers

All flowers can make an appropriate funeral gift, but some flowers are rich in symbolism and represent various stages of the cycle of life. Choosing flowers for a funeral can be an opportunity to highlight the special significance of your relationship with the deceased, and your options come in many different forms. There are funeral flower arrangements, sympathy flowers, flowers for a memorial service, and even funeral plants.

All serve the purpose of expressing condolences and providing comfort to loved ones during a time of loss. However, review funeral flower etiquette before sending or giving your flowers.

Funeral flowers – These serve as a tribute to the deceased and are formally designed to be placed in a funeral home or at a graveside service. Flowers for funerals can be purchased online and should be sent directly to a funeral home as opposed to the deceased’s loved ones or the home of the deceased. Typically, only flowers from immediate family members are placed inside or directly on a casket, while extended family can have funeral floral arrangements located in the surrounding space. Keep this in mind when choosing what type of funeral flowers you’re purchasing since a funeral wreath from a non-immediate family member may not be appreciated as much as a standing spray.

When purchasing flowers, there are generally four types of funeral flowers:

  • Funeral wreaths – these wreaths include floral hearts and items relevant to the deceased and are selected by immediate family or close loved ones.
  • Funeral baskets – these are displayed on the floor at the base of the casket or around the funeral viewing room and make appropriate gifts from friends and family.
  • Standing spray – a flower display designed to be one-sided and mounted on an easel near the front and sides of a room during funeral viewings.
  • Floral arrangement – these can be used to showcase a cremation urn.
  • Casket spray – a large floral arrangement placed on the top of a casket.

Sympathy flowers – Sympathy flowers are often sent to the deceased’s loved one’s home as a message of condolence and to help provide comfort during the grieving process. These can be sent by anyone, and are often designed as smaller, longer lasting floral arrangements. Here are some of the most popular flowers used in funeral floral arrangements and sympathy flowers today.

  • Lilies
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Roses
  • Orchids
  • Carnations
  • Gladioli
  • Carnations
  • Baby’s breath
  • Poppies

Funeral Plants

Funeral plants are the longest lasting option that can be sent to the family of the deceased. Plants will outlive flower arrangements and can last many years if taken care of properly. Knowing that grief can be overwhelming, it may not be a good idea to gift a high maintenance plant. Here are some easy-maintenance and popular funeral plants  and their symbolism:

  • Peace lily – Known as bringers of peace and expressors of sympathy.
  • Palm plant – Used during Ancient Egyptian times, these symbolize eternal life.
  • Orchid – Symbolize your everlasting love for the deceased, or select white or pink orchids that symbolize sympathy.
  • Succulents –Symbolize enduring, everlasting, tenacious love for the deceased.
  • Pothos – As a climbing plant, pothos’ growth symbolizes perseverance and provides encouragement to the family of the deceased.
  • Philodendron – A symbol of personal growth, love for nature, and eco-friendliness, these house plants can be used as a reflection of the deceased loved one.
  • Spider plants – Easy-to-care-for, they serve as a reminder to care for yourself, even during times of grief, and to be mindful of your well-being.

When gifting funeral plants, also keep in mind that some indoor houseplants are not pet-friendly. Consider your recipient’s situation before making your purchase and keep in mind that finicky plants that need a ton of light may also not work in everyone’s homes. Spider plants, some palm plants, and most succulents are amongst the pet-friendly houseplant varieties. Sending funeral plants and flowers for funerals is a way to convey emotion when words may not be able to express your sentiment. However, it is also recommended to include a sympathy card to express your condolences.  Carefully consider what to write on sympathy cards and the message you’d like to convey.

What to Write on Sympathy Flower Cards

Sending or gifting sympathy flowers is a kind gesture and will naturally convey your condolences, but you may want to add a level of personalization or an additional message to a card. Words of sympathy can be hard to formulate during difficult times, so here is a guide on how to structure and what to write on a sympathy card.

  1. Address the deceased’s family or loved one.  Start the letter with “Dear (Insert Names)”
  2. Offer your condolences. There are many phrases you can use to express your thoughts. Some of the most common include “I’m sorry for your loss”, “Know that we are thinking of you (and your family) during this sorrowful time”, or “Our thoughts go out to you”. If your recipient is religious, you can also include messages such as “Praying for you and your family”, “May God bring you comfort during this difficult time”, or “May our prayers ease the pain of your loss”.
  3. Share your favorite memory. This can highlight the deceased’s good qualities or be a story of a time you shared together. If you didn’t personally know the deceased, you can write “Although I didn’t know (name) on a deep level, I know he/she will be sorely missed.” You don’t have to avoid humor, although try to avoid inappropriate stories.
  4. Offer support if you feel comfortable. If you live close or can offer to help the bereaved with tasks, mention your support in your letter. Something as simple as cooking a meal, looking after the property, or other helpful tasks may be greatly appreciated. If you don’t feel comfortable offering support, you can also just send a useful gift or sympathy flowers.
  5. Sign your card with a thoughtful signature. If you aren’t close to the bereaved, a final signature can state “With deepest sympathy”, “Sincere condolences”, “Forever in our thoughts”, or you might choose “All my love” if you are close.

Funeral Flower Card Messages

It can be difficult to decide what to write on funeral flowers. The below messages can be personalized and altered to articulate your feelings. They can also be used when planning what to write on sympathy flowers.

  • _______ made a difference in so many lives, and I am thankful to have known/worked with him/her over the years.
  • I am thankful to have shared fond memories with _____, and I will miss him/her deeply.
  • I will treasure memories of ______ forever, and you/your family will remain in my thoughts.
  • Our hearts are saddened to learn of your loss, and our office/________’s colleagues are with you in our thoughts during this time of healing.
  • I hope it brings you comfort knowing that _______’s life will be celebrated, and that I/we will forever be thankful for his/her impact on my/our life/lives.
  • It was truly a pleasure to have gotten to know _______. He/she will be missed dearly.
  • The loss of a loved one is never easy. ________ will be missed, but know I/we am/are with you through your grief.
  • We held ______ close in our heart, and we hold you close in our thoughts and hope you can lean on us during this time of sorrow for whatever you may need.

Funeral & Sympathy Flower FAQs

Do you bring flowers to a funeral?

Flowers for funerals are typically sent directly to the funeral home in advance of the service. Consider the funeral home’s rules as well as cultural norms since flowers can be seen as culturally insensitive, such as at Jewish funerals. It can be considered thoughtless to arrive empty handed, so be sure to at least bring a sympathy card with a kind message and perhaps a monetary donation.

When should you send sympathy flowers?

Sympathy flowers or plants can be sent at any time, even after a funeral service has taken place. The thoughtfulness of your action will be appreciated regardless of whether you’ve sent flowers before or after the deceased has been laid to rest.

What to send to as a sympathy gift instead of flowers?

There are many unique gifts that can be sent other than sympathy flowers. Consider sending a home-cooked meal, a potted plant, candles, a donation to a charity, gift certificates for house cleaning or animal care, or even delivered groceries. It may be a nice gesture to send a piece of memorial jewelry or a unique memorial gift. You can also send gifts to children such as puzzles, books, movies, or games to help redirect grief.

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