Choosing Funeral Flowers: A Helpful Guide

Choosing Funeral Flowers: A Helpful Guide

Funeral flowers are a poignant way to honor a person’s life, as well as a loving way to comfort a grieving family.

Funeral flowers are a longstanding tradition in many cultures. In fact, the practice dates back to 6000 BC. Today, families often choose to incorporate meaningful flowers to plan a loved one’s funeral or memorial service. Likewise, sending flowers as an expression of sympathy to a grieving family is also a common practice. Since many people have questions about which types of flowers to choose, where to display or send them, and more, this article serves as a helpful guide to grieving families choosing funeral flowers and those wanting to send sympathy flowers.

Why Funeral Flowers are So Meaningful

Times of grief are fraught with many emotions. Many people have trouble putting their feelings into words when they have lost someone. Those around them may fear saying the wrong thing, too. They can speak what the heart is feeling when words fail or seem inadequate. A floral arrangement or a plant can give voice to unspoken sentiments. They can be a meaningful way to honor the life of a person who has died, marking their passing with respect and dignity.

Sending Funeral Flowers: Common Types

Although funeral flower etiquette can vary among different cultures and religious traditions, these flower arrangements are the most common to send.

Standing Sprays

Funeral sprays are often displayed at a funeral home but can also be delivered to a church for a service or a graveside burial ceremony. They are displayed on an easel, most often near the casket. People can view them from one side only.

Floral Baskets

Floral baskets usually come in a variety of sizes. They make a beautiful presentation of sympathy or remembrance. People can send them to the funeral home for a viewing, a church for a religious service, or the family’s home.

Shaped Wreaths and Arrangements

If you would like to send a large, prominent floral arrangement to express your sympathy, traditional circular wreaths are a good option. They can also be shaped into hearts or crosses for display on an easel. These large floral displays are appropriate for family and close friends to send.

Dish Gardens and Plants

If you wish to send greenery instead of flowers, plants are also common to honor a family’s loss. Dish gardens, composed of various plants, are typically arranged in a basket or decorative container. Both dish gardens and individual plants are suitable to be sent directly to awake or to the family’s home.

When Sending Flowers Is NOT Appropriate

Most of the time, expressing your sorrow and extending your respects through flowers is a culturally acceptable practice. However, there are some instances when sending flowers is actually inappropriate.

  • Jewish and Islamic faiths traditionally do not receive flowers.
  • Opt for sending white flowers to a Buddhist family, and never send red – which is considered poor etiquette.
  • At Hindu funerals, mourners should arrive empty-handed and not bring flowers or plants.

If you have concerns about whether sending flowers is appropriate, most florists are educated in this subject matter. Do not be afraid to ask questions to ensure you do not make a faux pas.

Incorporating Flowers into Funeral Planning

Many practical details go into planning a funeral. One obvious aspect of planning is funeral flowers. They are a poignant way to add a meaningful touch while adding beauty as well. Since many flowers have a unique meaning or emotion commonly attached to them, you’ll want to be intentional about your funeral flower choices. Here are some of the most common choices:


Lilies have a special meaning when someone has died. They indicate a belief in the restored innocence of the soul of the departed. This makes them one of the most popular choices for funeral flowers.


There are many types of orchids. Phalaenopsis and dendrobium varieties are usually considered the most appropriate to display at a funeral. Pink and white are said to represent eternal love.


These flowers make quite a statement. They are tall and majestic, and they convey the strength of character, moral integrity, and sincerity.


Carnations come in many colors. White signifies pure love and innocence. Red is said to represent admiration, and pink is used to indicate solemn remembrance.


These flowers have a mixed history of funerals. In the United States, they represent truth and are most often regarded as a happy way to honor a person who lived a long and full life. However, in many European cultures, chrysanthemums are thought to symbolize death, and they are only used as funeral flowers.


Not surprisingly, roses are a prevalent funeral flower choice. As with carnations, different colors carry different meanings. White roses convey reverence, innocence, and youthfulness. Red roses are used to convey respect, love, and courage. Pink roses are chosen to signify love, grace, and gentility. Crimson roses specifically denote grief and sorrow.

Expressing Emotions and Sentiments Through Funeral Flowers

Flowers are a meaningful way to express what is in your heart. This can be true at any time in life, but certainly when someone has died. If you send an arrangement as an expression of sympathy, flowers offer a physical representation of your sentiments. If you are planning a loved one’s funeral, the flowers you choose can add layers of meaning – and beauty – to the funeral or memorial service.

It’s no surprise that flowers have been interconnected with funerals and grieving for thousands of years. They are a beautiful and poignant way to honor the life of a person who has passed, as well as a loving way to bring comfort to a bereaved family.

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