Sending flowers to a funeral
Funeral flowers have been one of the longest standing funeral traditions. In fact, scientists found traces of flowers at a burial site in Northern Iraq from 62,000 BC. The Guinness Book of World Records officially declared it the world’s oldest form of human ritual.
Nowadays, the main function of funeral flowers is to add beauty, warmth and dignity to a funeral service, whereas, back in the day, one of the roles of funeral flowers was covering up the scent of the decaying body. They can do so much more than just that, though: Flowers have a language of their own. Especially in times of grief and great sorrow, when words can seem so meaningless, flowers allow you to express the depth of your feelings in a non-verbal way. If you know which ones to use and what colours to pick they can convey love, sympathy, hope, respect, symbolise things like integrity, gratitude, humility, or grace, and provide comfort.
In this guide, you’ll learn about funeral flower etiquette. We answer questions like ‘What is the difference between condolence and sympathy flowers?’ or ‘When is it not appropriate to send funeral flowers?’ as well as ‘What funeral flower arrangement should I choose?’ and ‘What colours should I choose for funeral flowers?’ On top of that, you’ll find a section on ‘what to write on funeral flowers?’ at the bottom of this post.
Should you send flowers to a funeral?
Even though funeral flowers have a long tradition in almost all cultures throughout history, they’re not always appropriate. Muslim and Jewish funerals for example usually don’t have any flowers. Instead, it’s customary to express your sympathy and support through gift baskets or by bringing fruit or homemade food to the house of the bereaved family. At Hindu funerals, flowers are not unwelcome but they are not customary either.
Another reason to not send funeral flowers can be that it was the deceased’s wish or their family have asked to have donations made to a charitable cause instead. It’s always worth checking with whoever is organising the funeral if there are any special requests. These should be honoured if possible. An alternative to sending funeral flowers could also be lending a helping hand or running errands for the bereaved family.
‘Should I send funeral flowers to a cremation?’ is another very common question. As long as not specifically stated otherwise, flower arrangements are just as welcome and important at a funeral with cremation or a memorial service after a cremation as they are at a burial.
What flowers should I send to a funeral?
What type of blooms and which funeral flower arrangement you choose depends on the relationship you had with the deceased. To be considerate of any particular theme or colour scheme that the funeral might be organised around, it’s worth checking with the family or funeral director if any special requests have been made regarding flowers.
Last but not least, you should consider your budget. According to a survey done for the Sunlife “Cost of Dying” report for 2021, 9 out of 10 funeral directors say that people overspend on flowers – despite it being one of the first things they try to save on when cutting down the funeral expenses.
Your love and sincerity cannot be measured in how much you spend on a floral tribute. A simple and elegant funeral flower arrangement that comes from the heart doesn’t need to break your bank account.
Different types of traditional funeral flower arrangements:
A funeral coffin/casket spray is a floral arrangement that sits beautifully on top of the coffin or casket. It is usually the main floral tribute at a funeral and chosen by close family members. It comes in a variety of sizes and colours and costs between £100-£250.
Letter tributes are also a popular choice for a very personal main floral arrangement. They get chosen by the immediate family and spell out the name or nickname of the loved one who died such as “mummy” or “papa”.
Funeral flowers are also available as standing sprays and sheaves. They are often chosen by groups, for example, work colleagues, neighbours, friends or a club that the deceased was a member of. A standing spray will be between 1 and 3 foot high and cost between £40-£100.
Wreaths are a popular choice among relatives, friends, and work colleagues. These circular floral arrangements have a long tradition at funerals that goes going way back to the ancient Greeks. Wreaths represent never-ending love and eternal life. They are one of the most versatile funeral flower tributes. You can expect to pay between £30-£80 for a wreath.
Pillows and cushions symbolise a peaceful final resting place. They are available in a wide range of sizes and colours and will roughly cost between £100-£140. They make a great flower tribute as they can be customised to reflect the deceased one’s personality.
Posies and baskets are great tributes because they can be easily moved around and transported from the funeral home to the graveside or if the family so chooses, they can take them home after the funeral. The price for posies and funeral baskets ranges from £40-£60.
The most unique way to arrange funeral flowers is a bespoke tribute. They often come in the shape of something the represents a passion or hobby of the person who died, like a football, sports car, an animal or a certain food/beverage. You can expect to pay between £100-£250 for a specialist tribute.
One of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to funeral flowers is: What is the difference between condolence and sympathy flowers? The former cover all the floral arrangements listed above and are meant to pay tribute to the person who died. They are displayed during the funeral/memorial service or at the grave. Sympathy flowers on the other hand are addressed to the bereaved and typically sent to their home. They convey your condolences and are meant to offer comfort during a time of intense grief. Sympathy flowers can be sent before or after the funeral or the anniversary of the death.
What flowers to choose for the funeral tribute:
The following is only a list of the most popular funeral flowers. However, maybe the deceased had a favourite bloom that isn’t mentioned below or they loved the outdoors and a basket of wildflowers would represent their personality better than any traditional or exotic flower.
Roses are very appropriate and one of the most common funeral flowers. Their meaning depends on their colour: deep red symbolises love, respect and grief, white stands for innocence, purity, and humility, a friend would choose yellow roses, and pink roses symbolise grace and express gratitude towards the person who died.
Lilies are classic funeral flowers. They represent peace, innocence, sympathy, majesty and purity.
The peace lily plant symbolises the restored innocence of the soul after death and also stands for harmony as well as eternal peace. They are a great choice for sympathy flowers.
Carnations are traditional funeral flowers. They are however more expensive than chrysanthemums and therefore used less often.
Honeysuckle is known for its hardy vine and symbolises everlasting bonds, devotion and happiness.
Gerbera are known for their radiant colours. They represent beauty, innocence and purity.
Gladioli are very impressive flowers that reach up to a height of 4 feet and stand for integrity, strength of character and sincerity.
Chrysanthemums are one of the most traditional funeral flowers used across the world. In Asian countries particularly white chrysanthemums represent grief but also rebirth. In the USA they stand for truth, respect and honour. In Europe, they are almost solely used as funeral flowers to express sympathy even though they generally represent love, joy & happiness.
Hyacinths convey that you hold the person who died and their loved ones in your prayers. Blue hyacinths express sincerity and also symbolise sorrow.
White and pink orchid plants are associated with mourning and symbolise sympathy as well as eternal love for the person who died.
The hydrangea plant represents grace and gratitude. A pink hydrangea plant symbolises heartfelt emotion. They are often given as sympathy flowers as they’re easy to keep alive and will bloom for many years.
Daffodils & Tulips represent rebirth and new beginnings. They are associated with hope and meant to bring happiness through the many colours they come in.
What should I write on funeral flowers?
Trying to choose the right words in a time of grief and distress can feel overwhelming. A message accompanying funeral flowers doesn’t need to be long. It is an opportunity, though, to say a final ‘goodbye’ to the person who died and can be an integral part of the grieving process. The note you send with condolence flowers should be addressed to the deceased. If you’d like to express your sympathy and offer your support to the bereaved person or family, you should do so with a sympathy card. We will list some examples of what you could write on the card that comes with funeral flowers below. They’re meant as inspiration. As long as your message comes from the heart and is sincere, it’ll be appreciated.
Examples of what to write on funeral flowers:
- “With love and fond memories.”
- “Forever in our thoughts.”
- “Dear …, may you rest in peace.”
- “You will be sorely missed.”
- “Always in my heart.”
- “In loving memory of …”
- “Gone but never forgotten.”
- “All our hearts are filled with sorrow.”
Examples of what to write on a sympathy card:
- “I am so sorry you’re having to go through this.”
- “With our deepest and heartfelt condolences.”
- “Please know our loving thoughts embrace you.”
- “Thinking of you at this time of sorrow.”
- “With warm and heartfelt sympathy.”
- “Please accept these flowers and hear the words we are not able to speak”
- “Wishing you some small comfort in this time of sorrow.”
- “May you find comfort and healing in the love of those who remember with you.”
If you found this ‘Guide to Sending Funeral Flowers’ helpful, please consider sharing it on social media or with your loved ones.