Funeral flowers are an important part of the process in cultures all over the world. Remains of Neanderthals have been found with flowers so it’s not as if funeral flowers are some kind of trend. At the same time, because of the importance, sending flowers to a funeral can invoke some anxiety because of all the customs and faux pas associated with them.
Only the most obtuse of us would not be a little anxious about putting a foot wrong at such a delicate time. This short guide is designed to help alleviate those feelings and provide a step by step guide on flowers for a funeral; regardless of the tradition involved.
On another note, if you’re stuck trying to write the perfect sympathy note, then we’ve got you covered here as well with our own guide to writing sympathy messages and condolence cards.
With all that said, let’s get started.
Meaning of Certain Flowers for Funerals
One of the considerations you’ll need to make is what sort of flowers to send. Certain flowers have certain meanings associated with them when it comes to funerals. Different groups of people can give different meanings to some of these flowers, but below you’ll find a list of flowers and their common meanings.
Lilies are considered by many as the go-to flower for funerals. Some attribute this to the belief by many that the Virgin Mary’s tomb was covered in these flowers at the time of her death and it’s why lilies often represent purity to Christians. That said, the popularity of lilies at funerals isn’t exclusively Christian.
Roses are another popular choice for funerals and different coloured roses can impart different meanings. White roses tend to signify purity and innocence, while red roses are emotive; amplifying whatever emotions are in the air. Another popular choice are yellow roses, where friends can use them to represent their friendship.
The peace lily is also known as Spathiphyllum and represents peace and prosperity. When used in funerals it symbolises that the soul of the departed is resting in peace. When bought as plants, they have the advantage of lasting longer, so consider sending these if you’d like your message to last longer than cut flowers tend to do.
Chrysanthemums have varied meanings depending on the culture. In the West, they typically represent sympathy and so are very commonly seen at funerals. In Asia, however, they tend to represent rebirth, so are usually given to celebrate the arrival of a baby. Different coloured chrysanthemums can also impart different meanings, with red and white being best for funerals.
Orchids typically convey a feeling of love and affection. One of the reasons they make a great gift is that they last longer than a typical cut flower. With all the different types of orchids, you’re bound to find one that you like.
When it comes to hydrangeas, there’s no one agreed-upon meaning. That said, they’re beautiful and popular flowers so it’s another safe option. When it comes to giving flowers at a sensitive time, not doing the wrong thing is often more important than going above and beyond to do the right thing, so hydrangeas are always a good choice for funeral flowers.
Carnations are another popular funeral flower and they’re often found in wreaths. The most popular colour option is pink; some people believe that the reason for this is because carnations were created from the tears of the Virgin Mary. Whether or not that is true doesn’t change the fact that they’re another good choice if you’re struggling to select a flower for a funeral.
Funeral Flowers by Religion
Which flowers to send to a funeral can be different depending on the religion of the people involved. A flower that has a certain meaning to one group might have the opposite meaning to another. Also, while flowers are widely associated with funerals, this isn’t true for all traditions, so if you want to send flowers to someone belonging to a religion you’re not familiar with, things can be tricky.
Add to this that conventions change and what was once frowned upon may not be seen the same today. In this following section, we’ll go through some of the larger religions and how flowers are received at funerals.
Roman Catholic Funeral
Flowers are welcome at Roman Catholic funerals, although the preferred types are usually sombre and respectable rather than bright and cheery. Sending flowers to the funeral home or the residence of the family is acceptable.
Similar to Catholic funerals, flowers are also welcome at Protestant funerals. One small difference is where Catholics tend to put more of an emphasis on sombre and conservative, Protestants are more accepting of all sorts of flowers. That said, it’s hard to make a major faux pas here, so you are generally pretty safe when it comes to flowers.
Traditionally flowers were not welcome at a Jewish funeral; this stems from the belief that the life cycle of a flower shouldn’t be cut short to make arrangements. Instead, Judaism allows for periods of deep mourning during which the decoration of yourself or surroundings can be seen as a distraction from the healing process. Items like a fruit basket or making a Shiva call are traditionally seen as more appropriate.
That said, things are changing and flowers are now welcome at some, more secular, Jewish funerals these days. It’s hard to know which case applies, so if you’re unsure, check before sending. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
Flowers at a Muslim funeral aren’t always straightforward as opinions are split. Some say that sending flowers violates the ideal of simplicity, while others disagree and welcome flowers at a sensitive time. Whether or not you should send flowers therefore depends on the family you’re sending them to. If you’re unsure, check beforehand and you’ll be sure to avoid offence.
Flowers are usually fine at a Buddhist funeral. The type of flower generally doesn’t matter, but the colour is something you need to be careful with. Generally, white flowers represent mourning, so if you’re going to send flowers then white is the best choice. Red flowers or gifts are not to be sent as they represent joy.
Flowers are commonly seen at Hindu funerals, but they are generally sent to the funeral home or the family home; guests generally arrive to the funeral empty-handed.
When & Where to Send Funeral Flowers
There are a couple of options when it comes to deciding when and where to send the flowers. Ideally, the flowers would be at the funeral home before the funeral begins, but if that’s not possible then sending flowers to the family’s home works well too.
Common Arrangements for Funeral Flowers
When it comes to funeral flower arrangements there are lots of options for you to choose from. Below we’ve listed out a few of the more common arrangements for your perusal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much are flowers for a funeral?
When it comes to funeral flowers you can spend as much or as little as you like. The idea isn’t to spend as much as possible but to show your support for someone at a difficult time.
Do funeral flowers have to be white?
No, funeral flowers don’t have to be white. What colour to send can depend on the religion, but generally white is a pretty safe colour flower to send.
What flowers are appropriate for a funeral?
Lilies, hydrangeas and orchids are three popular choices for funeral flowers, but if you want a few more, then check the section above for more ideas.
Are yellow flowers appropriate for a funeral?
Yellow flowers generally signify friendship, so if you’re sending them to a friend who has lost someone, then they can be the perfect colour to use.
How do you sign funeral flowers?
Signing funeral flowers can be tricky and anxiety-provoking. Fortunately, we have an entire guide on this topic over at our Sydney blog.
Who should send flowers to a funeral?
If the person who died meant something to you, or if you’re close to someone who has lost someone then feel free to send flowers. There’s no hard and fast rule for who should or shouldn’t send flowers.
That’s all we have for you on the topic of funeral flowers. If you’d like to know something else or if you have a question for us, let us know in the comments below!