In addition, flowers are also an appropriate way to express condolences if you did not hear of the death until after the funeral as they can be sent to the home of the mourning family or even the place of work. It is important to be sensitive to the traditions and customs of the grieving families. There are some religions where sending flowers is not considered appropriate. For example, flowers are generally not customary for Jewish funerals or burial.
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What Type of Flower Arrangement Should Be Sent?
There are many different types of flower arrangements that can be sent to express condolences. Depending on timing and location, the presentation and assortment may vary. Sending flowers to a funeral or to the home of the grieving family is a thoughtful message of condolence. To many, flowers capture emotions that are so often difficult to put into words – love, respect, compassion and sympathy. The color and scent of flowers can add beauty, fragrance and hospitality to a serious occasion.
Funeral Flower Arrangements
There are several categories of traditional funeral flower arrangements. These five commonly used arrangements can guide the selection of the appropriate arrangement when ordering.
- Wreaths are a circular flower arrangement that generally can be seen from both sides. The circular nature of the flowers represents eternal life.
- Floral arrangements include any type from a vase with cut flowers to a basket container prepared with greenery and other accessories. These are appropriate for display at the funeral home or for delivery to the family home.
- Sprays are arrangements that are viewed from one side only.
- Casket sprays are usually ordered by the direct family members. These are often displayed on the top of the casket.
- Inside pieces are smaller sprays or individual flowers placed inside the casket. These are often ordered by special members of the family, like siblings or grandchildren.
Type of Flowers
The availability of some flowers may be limited by location and season. Here are some of the flowers that are traditionally displayed at funerals and the meaning they may convey.
- White lilies stand for sympathy and purity. In several religions and cultures, the lily points to a resurrection.
- Carnations are often seen as a symbol of undying love. Red carnations stand for admiration; pink for remembrance; and white for love and innocence.
- Tulips represent elegance and grace. Red tulips represent perfect love.
- Chrysanthemums symbolize truth.
- Roses are always the expression of elegance. White roses speak to humility and innocence. Red roses demonstrate love, while pink roses symbolize grace and courage.
- The daisy symbolizes youth and innocence and loyal love. Daisies are often the choice to commemorate a spouse who had been a part of a long, loving relationship.
- Apple blossoms symbolize adventure and hope.
If the deceased enjoyed working in gardens and had a favorite flower and color, it would bring much comfort to the family to receive an arrangement that included those choices.
When and Where Should the Flowers Be Sent?
Funeral flowers are often larger and more formal arrangements that serve as a tribute to the deceased. These flowers are sent to the funeral home or place where the services or memorial is going to be held. Flowers in that setting speak to the respect and care that people have for both the deceased and the surviving family. These flowers are not sent specifically to any one grieving friend or family members but are sent as a way to pay respect to the deceased.
Flowers sent to the home of the family are called sympathy flowers. These arrangements are also a thoughtful way to express concern and remembrance to the grieving family. The sympathy flowers are a small to mid-range size arrangement to be used as a centerpiece on a table or set on an end table. These flowers provide a keepsake that honors the recipient’s departed loved one.
Some people may choose to send flowers as much as a week or more after the funeral. These flowers are sent to the home at a time when the busyness of the events involving the funeral are passed. This gesture reminds the bereaved that they are not forgotten and that their loss is remembered.
Is There Ever a Time When Flowers Are Not Appropriate?
There are several traditions, both religious and secular, which do not support or encourage the use of flowers at the funeral services. Jewish law and tradition dictated an immediate burial so flowers were never seen as necessary. Islamic funerals have no set tradition – some will use flowers, others not. It is customary to place flowers, palm branches and other greenery on the gravesite. Flowers are not a traditional part of Hindu or Buddhist funerals, but they are not forbidden. For specific guidance about each religion, consult with the appropriate religious leaders.