The inclusion of flowers on display as as part of a funeral service is an old tradition. Where once the deceased were anointed with fragrant herbs and floralblooms, now funeral flowers are used to adorn the casket and/or burial site. Beautifully crafted floral arrangements are designed to comfort the grieving family as well as serving as a reminder of the spirit of life.
How to choose funeral flowers:
Always take into account the personality of the deceased and the bereaved. If you know a favourite type of flower or colour that they would prefer, that is always an excellent choice. You may wish to honour their personal character, i.e. you may wish to send a bright bouquet to celebrate a vibrant personality. When in doubt, roses and carnations are always appropriate choices as funeral blooms, as are lilies, gerbera daisies, asters, delphiniums, gladiolus, and chrysanthemums.
Colours can have special meanings within the realm of funeral flowers: white stands for peace and reverence while blue represents comfort and calm and green stands for health and good fortune. Soft, muted colours are generally used rather than vibrant tones. Religious considerations may also affect choice of colours and types of displays. Whenever possible, it’s advised to check with the one arranging the service as to what would be best received in terms of style of arrangements. While it’s not uncommon for the family to request charitable donations ‘in lieu of flowers’, if you are personally attending a service, flowers are still appropriate. Usually a card with a simple message of condolences is included as well. In some cases, you might wish to gather contributions from a number of people to purchase a larger arrangement from the group as a whole.
Funeral etiquette specifies what is the appropriate type of arrangement based on your relationship to the deceased. Only immediate family members are involved in choosing a large spray that to sits upon the casket top. Close personal acquaintances may choose wreaths, sprays, or other arrangements. If you were close to the deceased, you might choose flowers that speak to their personality, life, interests, talents, or legacy- this is called a tribute. If you were not well acquainted with the deceased, but are instead associated with the bereaved, a floral basket is a good choice. Children who are relatives often bring a floralpillow to be placed on the casket. For a child’s funeral, floral arrangements in the shape of toys are often chosen.
Funeral flowers are technically the floral arrangements that are sent to the service directly, or perhaps to the funeral home if preferred by the family for use during the ceremony. Funeral flowers are designed as a standing arrangement, often fan-shaped, to be displayed in a space such as a church or at a cemetery. If you are sending flowers to the home of the bereaved, either because you cannot attend the service in person or because the family prefers it, those are termed sympathy flowers. Sympathy flowers are generally smaller arrangements, as they are designed for display in a home rather than in a church.
Ordering with a florist:
Funeral flowers should be arranged as soon as possible so that the funeral director has time to accommodate all the flowers received. Your florist will ask from you information about the deceased, bereaved, and also the service day, time, and location. If you’d like a message put on a floral card to be attached to the arrangement, have this ready as well when you place your order. A local florist may be aware of what trends are appropriate and how best to deliver, though online ordering makes it possible to send flowers almost anywhere in the world. Depending on the type of funeral and wishes of the deceased and bereaved, you usually have the option of sending flowers to the home of the family or directly to the funeral site. Often flowers are sent to the funeral home, but you can also send sympathy flowers to the family after the funeral and burial while they are still in mourning or if they prefer flowers at their home. It is important to know where the flowers will be used in order for your florist to craft the right display.
Religions and Funeral Flower Customs that may govern use of flowers:
- Baha’i – Ideally, Baha’i burials and funerals will be held within 50 miles of the place the deceased died. It is appropriate to send flowers.
- Buddhism – Buddhists funeral services generally take place in a funeral home. It is appropriate to send flowers.
- Orthodox – Eastern Orthodox practitioners are very specific in regards to rituals for the deceased. Just three days are allowed between the time of death and the time of burial. It is acceptable to send flowers with white flowers regarded as the most meaningful.
- Hindu – Hindu funerals are held the day of the death prior to the sun setting when possible. While flowers are not common at Hindu funerals, a spray of flowers is received as a thoughtful gesture.
- Judaism – Jewish tradition does not place value receiving flowers. A gift basket or fruit basket during the mourning period would be appropriate. Younger and more liberal Jewish followers may appreciate flowers sent to the home or at the entrance of the synagogue; though if in doubt, select a contribution other than flowers.
- Mormon – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will appreciate flowers or funeral sprays during the time of mourning. Avoid sending a cross design arrangement.
- Muslim – Muslims and Islamic cultures have different customs pertaining to funeral flowers depending on the particular branch or ethnic origin. Always inquire as to the type of affiliation from a close member of the family and seek their advice prior to sending any flowers. Avoid sending a cross design arrangement.
- Christian – All Christian religions allow any type of funeral flowers; however, certain branches or denominations may have particular opinions in regards to elaborate displays and may only wish to receive very basic and simple arrangements. It is always best to check with a family member when possible as to what is appropriate.
- Catholic – Roman Catholics accept flowers and funeral arrangements, preferably at the church or cathedral.