Buying flowers for a funeral is a common way of expressing sympathy to the family of the deceased. They add beauty, fragrance, and serve as a tribute to the deceased. Flowers are symbolic of love and compassion, and the best way to express condolences when you can’t find the words.
Buying flowers for a funeral is a beautiful way to let the bereaved family know that they are in your thoughts. The flowers you bought will hopefully help to provide comfort, celebrate life, and lift the spirit of the loved ones of the deceased.
When someone dies, whether it’s a family member, a friend, or someone we know, we would like to buy flowers even if we donated in that person’s honor. Knowing what type of flowers and floral arrangement to send depends on several factors, such as your relationship to the deceased and religious considerations.
There are no specific rules about sending flowers, but here is a guide you can use to help you decide what to do.
REASON FOR SENDING FLOWERS
The purpose of sending flowers at the funeral is to express sympathetic feelings into words. When you send flowers, no words need to be spoken. When you send flowers, you celebrate the deceased life. Sending flowers to provide comfort and lift the mood of the grieving family.
When you send a floral arrangement to a memorial service, it will be understood and appreciated by the family of the deceased. Funeral and sympathy flowers are a way to divide grief and loss and also a symbol for support and a life well-lived.
THE HISTORY OF FUNERAL FLOWERS
Putting flowers around the remains has been one of the oldest forms of mourning. It is an ancient activity documented by Dr. Ralph Solecki in 1951. He discovered several burial sites in the Shanidar Cave in Northern Iraq during his famous excavation. He uncovered pollen and flower fragments of different species of wildflowers that have been there since 62,000 B.C.
The soil samples showed that these flowers were placed on the burial sites. The excavation determined that they were the first flowers to have been used for a funeral. The Guinness Book of World Records noted this discovery by Dr. Solecki is the oldest form of human ritual in the world.
TRADITIONAL USES OF FLOWERS AT FUNERALS
Sending flowers for a funeral is a tradition that has been around for centuries. Flowers are considered as a symbol of the life cycle from birth to death. It represents the fragility of life and movement forward.
In the past, when the art of embalming was not a practice, scented flowers were traditionally used to cover the unpleasant smell of a decaying body. They use flowers to tolerate the smell of decomposition to those who came to pay their final respects.
MODERN USES OF FLOWERS AT FUNERALS
Today, flowers are sent to the funeral for different reasons. First, it’s one way to express love for the deceased and sympathy for members of the family. It’s also a way to put feelings into words. Flowers can express comfort and respect.
Flowers create beauty and warmth, which helps balance the heaviness and grief of death — helping the family accept the loss of a loved one.
BUYING FLOWERS FOR A FUNERAL
Funeral flower arrangements are sent directly to the funeral home or crematory. Usually, close family members or relatives order funeral flowers. The floral arrangements are traditionally large and formal arrangements such as casket sprays or floral arrangements on an easel to decorate the funeral home or church.
Funeral flowers serve as a tribute to the deceased. These floral arrangements are often used at the funeral home and graveside services. These flowers are not addressed to any family member, but it is intended to pay respect to the deceased.
Sympathy flowers and floral arrangements are sent directly to the home of the deceased. It addressed to a loved one of the deceased who had suffered a recent loss. Sympathy flowers are often smaller or mid-sized flower arrangements that look good on tables or used as centerpieces.
Live plants make an excellent sympathy choice because they can continue to grow and live. You can choose small to large plants. These plants provide a lasting reminder of your thoughtfulness and can serve as a memory of the deceased.
FUNERAL FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS
Funeral flowers are categorized by their function. Here are a few of the commonly used floral arrangements used in funerals:
- Sprays – a large, flat bouquet of long-stem flowers and plants designed for viewing from one side. Sprays come in single-ended and double-ended designs. Single-ended sprays are put on a stand. Double-ended sprays are usually put on top of the casket.
- Casket Sprays – double-ended spray placed on top of the casket. The immediate family usually orders it.
- Sympathy spray – floral arrangement displayed on a standing easel often delivered to the funeral home, mortuary or church
- Inside Pieces – small floral spray placed inside the casket
- Garlands/wreaths – flowers and plants secured together to form a circle that represents eternal life.
- Funeral Baskets – are floral arrangements displayed in decorative baskets or containers. You can send this floral arrangement to the residence, funeral home, mortuary, or church.
- Vase Arrangements – are floral arrangements in a beautiful vase. It is more appropriate to be delivered in residence or place of business. Some funeral homes don’t accept vase arrangements because they can trip and break.
- Specialty arrangements – are floral arrangements in the shape of a cross, heart, bibles, etc. They are appropriate for delivery to the funeral home, church, or mortuary.
- Live Plants – green and blooming plants are also acceptable sympathy option. Beautiful plants are put in a pot or decorative basket. It’s appropriate to be delivered to the residence, funeral home, mortuary, or place of business.
WHEN FUNERAL FLOWERS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE
There are times when funeral flowers are not appropriate. Such as when the family of the deceased requests donations for some charitable cause “in lieu of flowers.”
There are also some cultures and traditions which do not traditionally receive flowers. Jewish and Islamic faith are among them. Jewish tradition demands immediate burial within three days, so funeral flowers are not deemed necessary. In Islam, burial is usually within 24 hours of death, so flowers are not required.
SELECTING APPROPRIATE FUNERAL FLOWERS
There are some factors to consider in selecting the right funeral flowers.
Buying flowers for a funeral is primarily determined by your relationship to the deceased. The closer you are, the bigger and more elaborate it should be.
- Members of the Immediate Family – spouse, children, brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents typically buy essential flowers such as casket spray, wreaths, or large sprays on a stand. These flowers are usually placed closest to the casket or inside the coffin during the wake or viewing.
- Extended Family Members– other family members such as aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews have a wide range of funeral flower options. They can choose a standing spray or informal floral arrangements they can bring home or take to the cemetery
- Close Friends and Business Associates – close friends and business associates of the family may send flowers to show sympathy. Some of the best options include smaller arrangements like a basket of flowers, bouquets in vases, or small to medium-sized live plants. They can send flowers directly to the funeral home or the residence of the deceased.
2. DONATION REQUEST “IN LIEU OF FLOWERS”
Buying flowers for a funeral will also depend if the family asks a donation request “in lieu of flowers.” It is best to honor the request of the family to donate money to a charitable cause; however, you can send flowers in addition to your donation. This decision is up to you, but honoring the wishes of the bereaved family is always appreciated.
3. FUNERAL TYPE
Consider the type of service when buying flowers for a funeral. Know if it will be a funeral, memorial, or a celebration of life. Also, consider the manner of disposition of the body. If it’s cremation with no burial, you can send flowers to the crematory. Choose the type of arrangement that they can take home easily.
Traditional burial services would typically involve the same flowers from the funeral home. But you can choose the type of floral arrangement that you can leave at the cemetery.
Personalize the floral arrangement depending on the nature and vibe of the funeral. If it’s a traditional funeral, you will never go wrong with white flowers. However, if it’s a modern celebration of life, you can choose arrangements with vibrant colors.
Pay tribute to the personality of the deceased. If the deceased loved sunflowers and she has a bright personality. You can choose to include sunflowers in the floral arrangements. If the deceased loved outdoors, you could send a basket of wildflowers. If the deceased is an avid gardener, choose to buy a plant that can be planted by the family.
5. CONSIDER THE FAITH OF THE DECEASED
Be sure to take the religious belief of the deceased into consideration when buying flowers for a funeral. The most appropriate floral arrangements can vary depending on faith, cultural beliefs, and religion of the deceased and the family. What is appropriate in one culture man not be so in another, so be sure to check with the family if you aren’t sure.
Here are some funeral flower suggestions for more common religious affiliation:
- Buddhist – funerals are held in a funeral home and never in a temple. Sending funeral flowers is considered appropriate for a Buddhist funeral. You can opt for white or yellow flowers, but red flowers are not acceptable. Most floral arrangements are appropriate
- Eastern Orthodox – members are strict about burial after three days. You can send flowers to the funeral home. Most flowers are accepted, but white flowers are seen as meaningful.
- Hindus – funeral flowers are not part of Hindu tradition because funeral service is held on the same day of death before the sun goes down. Garlands are more common in Hindu funeral.
- Jewish – their tradition doesn’t include funeral flowers, it’s more appropriate to send fruit baskets during the period of mourning. You can send flowers to the family members’ homes because funeral homes do not typically display flowers.
- Mormons – or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints appreciate funeral flowers but avoid floral arrangements in the shape of a crucifix because this may offend them.
- Muslim or Islamic – the burial is held 24 hours after the death, so funeral flowers may not be necessary. If you want, you can send flowers to the family home.
- Protestants and Other Christian – Christian faith accept all types of funeral flowers. Most flower arrangements are welcome at the funeral home and the residence of the deceased.
- Roman Catholics – all colors and types of floral arrangements are acceptable. There are no specific recommendations on what styles or colors to avoid.
CHOOSING THE TYPE OF FLOWERS
When buying flowers for a funeral, choose your flowers carefully. Consider the different factors stated above when choosing the type of flowers to send. Consider flower colors and their meaning in your selection.
- White flowers – pick white flowers to represent peace and eternal life.
- Blue flowers – it represents comfort and calm
- Red flowers – represent love, but it should be avoided at a Buddhist funeral. Red flowers are okay if the service is a celebration of life.
- Green flowers – should be avoided because it represents health and good fortune, which is not appropriate for a funeral. You can send a live plant instead.
COMMON FLOWER ETIQUETTE QUESTIONS
Can you send flowers for the casket?
The tradition of putting flowers for the casket is typically reserved for the immediate family members who made the funeral arrangement. If you are an extended family member, distant relative or close family friend, it may be more appropriate to buy a smaller floral arrangement.
Where should funeral flowers be sent?
If you are a relative of the deceased, it is appropriate to send your flowers to the funeral, or you may take your flowers to the graveside. If you knew the deceased well, you could send sympathy flowers to the home. If you’re a friend or colleague, it is better to send flowers to the family home.
Is it okay to send flowers or plants to the deceased family home?
Sending flowers to the family home is a beautiful way to express your sympathy. You can send flowers to the house immediately or after a week or longer. Flowers can be a reminder that friends are thinking of them at the time of loss.
When should funeral flowers be delivered?
If you are buying flowers for a funeral to be placed in a funeral home, crematorium, or church, it is best to deliver them on the day of the funeral. Let the florist know when the funeral will be so it will be delivered accordingly. You can send funeral flowers before or after the funeral.
Is it too late to send sympathy flowers?
No matter when you heard the sad news, it’s never too late to send funeral flowers. Sending flowers is always appropriate. If you missed the funeral, you could send a plant, sympathy flowers, or a food basket to the residence of the surviving family.
Who do you address the funeral flowers?
Funeral flowers must be addressed to the funeral home, crematorium or church. Make sure to include the name of the deceased so that it will be delivered to the right place.
Is it appropriate to send flowers for the cremation?
The smaller floral arrangement will be acceptable because it adds beauty to the memorial service. The floral arrangement will be displayed with the urn.
What should funeral flowers say?
Messages on the funeral or sympathy flowers should be addressed to the deceased, such as “Rest in Peace” or “We love you.”
Which funeral flowers should I send?
The most appropriate flowers are the ones that you know the deceased would appreciate. You can never go wrong with white flowers; however, you can add colors if you know that it is their favorite.
They ask for a donation in lieu of funeral flowers, but I still would like to send flowers – is it okay?
It is appropriate to honor the wishes of the family, but you can still send flowers after donating.
What if I like to send a colorful flower arrangement to celebrate life?
Selecting colorful flowers is also appropriate, and it can add a joyful vibe to a somber occasion. However, if the deceased is Buddhist, white, or yellow flowers are more acceptable.
What can I send to an overseas or out-of-town funeral?
If you are buying flowers for a funeral out-of-town, ask the local florist to arrange the flower according to the local customs there. Tell the florist to send the style and design that is best suited for the funeral.
What would I say, and how do I sign the card?
Most sympathy cards are pre-printed with messages like “With love and sympathy” or “Our deepest sympathy” of all you need to do is sign your name. Use your first and last names to avoid confusion.
How do we sign our names if we go in together for a floral tribute?
If a group ordered flowers, you could order a large floral arrangement. You can sign as a group such as “The Staff in Purchasing” or “Smith Family” write a contact name and address, so the family will know who to thank.
Can I send flowers to the memorial that can also be enjoyed at the viewing and church service?
If you’re buying flowers for a funeral it’s best to send flowers in a container with water or floral foam for multiple-day services to keep the flowers fresh for the longest possible time.
What can I do to make my flower arrangement unique from the rest?
To make your funeral flower unique, ask the florist to arrange something that fits the personality of the deceased. You can add their favorite color or flower to the arrangement.
Is it okay to send a plant to the funeral home to be sent to the family after the service?
It’s appropriate to send a live plant to the funeral home to be sent to the family after the service. The funeral director will notify the family members that they can take the plants after the service.
Is it okay to send flowers in a glass vase to the funeral home?
It is acceptable to send flowers in a glass vase; however, many funeral homes have rules against it because the vases may be prone to tip and spill when being moved.
How much does funeral flower cost?
Funeral flower costs around $50 for small arrangements and can go up to $1,000 for a complete floral package, including a casket spray and interior casket flowers.
What to do with the funeral flowers after the funeral?
Families can take the flowers home if they like, but often flowers are left in the cemetery, especially the large arrangements. You can order the flowers to be sent to a hospital or nursing home. Most churches and crematoriums do that. The flowers will be enjoyed and appreciated for longer than just the day of the service.
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