Choosing Funeral Flowers

Written by Fraser Stewart
Reading time 5 minutes
Choosing Funeral Flowers image

When it comes to planning a funeral, one important consideration if the selection of flowers. Not only do funeral flowers add beauty and fragrance to a ceremony, but they can serve as a symbolic tribute to the life that is being honoured. 

But with so many types of flowers to choose from, it can be difficult to understand which flowers to pick. To help you navigate this decision, we have pulled together a comprehensive guide to funeral flowers and their symbolic meanings. 

Common Funeral Flowers

Here are 6 common funeral flowers that can be used either in funeral arrangements, to place on graves, or sympathy bouquets.

Roses

Roses are common in funeral flower arrangements. This elegant and fragrant flower symbolises love and devotion, making it an excellent choice to honour a spouse or a loved one.

Different colours tend to have nuanced meanings, including:

Lilies

Lilies are one of the most common funeral flowers, and you will often see them in a funeral home. White lilies are very common, especially for a Christian funeral service, as they signify the purifying of the soul. Remember that lilies are toxic to cats, so they are not appropriate to send to grieving people who own cats.

Carnations

Carnations feature heavily in both funeral and sympathy arrangements. For Christian funerals, pink carnations may be appropriate as it is believed they come from the Virgin Mary’s tears.

Orchids

Orchids of any colour mean “I will always love you” and a plant can make a lovely gift for someone grieving. Generally, pink and white funeral flowers express sympathy and an innocent love, but there is no particular meaning for the colour of an orchid.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums have a lot of different meanings depending on the culture, so tread carefully if you are sending these as sympathy flowers. In many Asian cultures (but not all), chrysanthemums symbolise rebirth and are more appropriate at a birth or baby shower. In many European countries, chrysanthemums are only used for placing on graves.

Gladioli

A gladioli symbolises strength, integrity, and sincerity. It is commonly used in funeral and sympathy arrangements for someone who was well-respected in their community. The flower does not have different meanings dependent on its colour.

Other Types of Funeral Flowers

Flower Colours and their Meanings

Often, the most popular flower colours found at a funeral are white, pink, red, blue, purple, and yellow. Each has its unique symbolic meaning. 

Funeral Flower Arrangements

The choice is completely up to you. Some flowers will be more expensive than others, so a single type of flower may be more expensive or less expensive than an arrangement. Florists can make beautiful arrangements that incorporate a few different types of flowers and set a mood for the service. If you are nervous about using a non-traditional flower or worried about the flowers and their meanings, asking a florist to make an arrangement can take the pressure off.

Common Funeral Flower Arrangements

If you have chosen a flower arrangement, some of the common types are provided below:

  1. Wreath: A circular arrangement of flowers displayed on a stand or hung on a wall.
  2. Spray: A large arrangement of flowers that is meant to be displayed on a stand.
  3. Casket spray: A large arrangement of flowers that is placed on top of the casket.
  4. Heart: A heart-shaped arrangement of flowers often given by a spouse or significant other.
  5. Basket: A flower arrangement designed to be displayed in a basket.
  6. Standing spray: A large arrangement of flowers meant to be displayed on a stand and is usually placed near the head of the casket.

Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings

No. While in the past, the symbolism of flowers was common knowledge, flowers and their meanings are not a part of most people’s decision making. You can choose funeral flowers based on the deceased’s favourite flowers or based on the types of flowers that remind you of them. You may even choose types of flowers to suit the mood that the deceased wanted at their funeral. Ultimately, the choice is yours, or the deceased if they left instructions. Be aware of the meanings of common funeral flowers, but it does not have to be the only factor in your decision.

Messages and Funeral Flowers

It is typically a good idea to include a message with funeral flowers. A message can be a way to express your condolences and support the bereaved or to say your parting words to the deceased. Here are a few examples of messages you could include with funeral flowers.

To the deceased:

  1. "You will always be in our hearts. Rest in peace, [Name]."
  2. "We will miss you deeply, [Name]. Your kind and loving spirit will always be remembered."
  3. "Your presence will be greatly missed, but the memories you left behind will always be a source of comfort. Rest in peace, [Name]."
  4. "Thank you for the love and joy you brought into our lives. You will be deeply missed, [Name]."
  5. "We are grateful to have had the privilege of knowing you, [Name]. Your kind and generous spirit will be deeply missed."

To the bereaved: 

  1. "I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers."
  2. "Thinking of you during this difficult time. May these flowers bring you some comfort."
  3. "Words cannot express how much [Name] will be missed. Please accept these flowers as a small gesture of my love and support."
  4. "I will always remember [Name] fondly. Please know that my thoughts are with you during this time of grief."
  5. "Sending love and condolences to you and your family. May these flowers bring you some solace."

It is vital to keep your message brief and sincere. You may also want to consider including a personal anecdote or memory of the deceased, as this can be a comforting way to honour their life and offer support to the bereaved.

Culture and Funeral Flowers

Different cultures and religions vary in their etiquette to funeral flowers. When deciding on funeral flowers, it is essential that you understand the traditions and customs before you attend a funeral. Although you may feel you are making a kind gesture, flowers are not always appropriate. This article provides insight of the traditions of some religions below. 

Roman Catholic

A vigil, or wake, is held before a Roman Catholic funeral at a church or burial ground. Flowers are used to decorate the casket. Acceptable gestures for a Roman Catholic include:

Protestant 

Protestant funerals are a celebration of the deceased's life, with a emphasis on the afterlife. Acceptable gestures for a Protestant include:

Buddhist 

Flowers are welcomed at a Buddhist funeral, but red flowers are considered inappropriate. White flowers are often used in Buddhist funeral arrangements, as they symbolise purity and spiritual enlightenment.

Judaism 

At Jewish funerals, flowers are typically not appropriate. Instead, attendees are encouraged to send a donation to charity. Jewish burials often happen within 24 hours, followed by seven days of mourning (Shiva). During this period, taking fruit, food baskets, or desserts to the family's home is customary. 

Muslim 

The appropriateness of sending flowers is dependent on the family's wishes. For some, flowers are welcomed, while those that believe the Islamic faith focusses of symplicity may consider flowers inappropriate.

Hindu 

Funerals tend to occur within 24 hours of the death and attendees are expected to arrive empty-handed. Traditionally, a second ceremony is held ten days later where fruit is an appropriate gift. 

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