Flowers are a beautiful
way to show sympathy to a friend or family member for
the passing of a loved one as well as saying those hard,
final good byes. Flowers can say more than words at times
when the right words for expressing the heart's true feelings
are lost, or just too difficult. Because families are
so spread out these days, funeral services have become
shorter and smaller, or do not happen at all. Flowers
are still appropriate to be sent to the funeral homes,
or to the home of the bereaved. They offer comfort during
this hard time and give sad, lost eyes a direction. Memories
of the loved one can be triggered by beautiful flower
arrangements allowing for laughter and smiles rather than
having sorrow and tears only.
With cremations on the rise in the U.S., memorial services are often shortened, or do not happen at all. Many people are unsure whether it would be appropriate to send flowers when a loved one has been cremated. Showing the family of the deceased that they are thought of in their time of need is always appropriate. Flower arrangements or food baskets are a great way to show support. Flowers can be sent to the funeral home if there is a service, or to the home of the bereaved. Always remember to put a name and address on the card so that the family knows whom to thank. Sending flowers as a group is a way to pull all funds together and create a magnificent piece that stands out among the other flowers. Sympathy cards allow for abundant names, but only include one name and address so that the bereaved knows where to send thanks. Showing support or how much the deceased touched the lives of the senders will be greatly appreciated. In some cases, the family may request charity rather than flowers. Still, there are not many people who want a service completely flowerless, so sending flowers is still appropriate. Showing one's sympathy with flowers or a food basket in good taste is always appropriate.
Flower arrangements to show sympathy should be original, personal, and creative. They should be gentle and soothing, yet deeply expressive. Symbolizing with flowers the deceased person's personality, his or her interests, or the sender's personal relationship with the deceased expresses the true feelings of the sender. The family is sure to recognize this gesture and appreciate it. For the family, a personal item from the deceased can be accented by flowers and laid over the casket as a spray. Depending regionally, religiously, or culturally, casket sprays, pillows, flower arrangements, flower baskets, and stands are given. The family, or very close friends usually give casket sprays and pillows, and friends and family usually give stands, flower arrangements, and baskets. Many people search for something different and with a less funeral look. This way the family has the option of taking the flowers home, or donating them to a church, hospital, or nursing home.
Casket sprays are elaborate sprays of flowers generally laid over the casket. Smaller sprays on the casket as symbols of love from children are a loving, meaningful touch. Casket pillows need to be small, but deeply expressive. Stands are sprays of flowers, and can be in the shapes of hearts, crosses, or wreaths. These types of arrangements should be sent to the funeral home rather than to the home of the bereaved. Flower arrangements and baskets can be sent to either place.
Displaying sympathy with seasonal flowers is always appropriate. The flowers can be simple, yet elegant. Using fresh flowers rather than silk is a reminder of life's beauty and its endless cycle. Plant baskets generally last longer and the individual flower can be removed and given out after the service. The sender should choose an arrangement that has a looser feel, rather than stiff. The arrangement should be free of hard edges and angles. This adds sensitivity to the arrangement, and a round shape shows a sense of stability and comfort. If known, the favorite colors and flowers of the deceased should be used. For the casket sprays, the casket colors and what the deceased will be wearing should be taken in to consideration.
Most flowers are appropriate, but some flowers and their colors have personal or archetypal meanings. How the sender feels about the bereaved or the deceased comes out in the arrangement. Red carnations are classic funeral flowers as well as they are beautiful and affordable. Roses have timelessly portrayed emotion's depth more than any other flower. Spring flowers give a message of hope. As mentioned earlier, the Chrysanthemum is associated with death and funerals. (For more information about the meaning of individual flowers, visit our flower meanings page)
Some people shy away from vibrant colors for a funeral because they feel that it would not be appropriate. In fact, a memorial and a funeral are celebrations of the deceased person's life as well as a time to say good-bye. Vibrant, tasteful colors are extremely appropriate. They show how much the deceased touched the sender's life. Reds are a passionate color representing a deep love. Softer orange hues respect and admire a loved one. White flowers are a classic funeral color representing sympathy, love and sorrow.
For most religions, seasonal flowers are acceptable. For the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), flowers arranged in the shape of a cross or crucifix are NOT acceptable. The Islamic church uses a lot of palm branches and green foliage for the grave. They do not have a tradition for flowers, yet perfumed flowers, like roses, are acceptable. The Buddhist church accepts flowers, but usually prefer them to be white.