Alternatives to flowers for bereavement

Updated April 17, 2017

Losing a loved one hurts. Most provide a spray of flowers for the funeral to let the family know they care. However, many are sensitive to flowers and cannot have them around. Since most people choose to send flowers, the church or funeral home often has no place to put all the flowers sent. Besides, flowers wilt. However, there are alternatives to sending flowers to a grieving family.

Memory Basket

Purchase a basket, add a bow and fill it with mementos that bring special memories of the loved one. If the loved one who has died loved baseball, include a pack of baseball cards. If the loved one played the guitar, add a key chain guitar. Add a favourite food and/or coupons to favourite restaurants, events or recreations. Add a book on grieving or inspirational verse. To complete this memento basket, add a card to explain; for example: "George was so full of life. May these remind you of a life well lived and all the blessings he added to your lives."


Especially for those families in bereavement who may have one or more members with allergies to flowers, a balloon arrangement is an alternative. Helium balloons do not need to be huge and obtrusive. There are shops that offer smaller, appropriate balloons that can make a nice substitute to a flower arrangement.


Flowers quickly wilt and die. Often the family has the task of figuring out what to do with all the flower arrangements as they can only handle so many at home. At a time of bereavement, they are forced into making decisions about flower arrangements. Often some are left for the church to enjoy. Others go to different friends and family members. Others are sent to elderly care homes or hospitals. An alternative to flowers is to send a plant. A potted plant isn't going to wilt and die in a few days forcing family to find a place for it. A potted plant is life that the family can often enjoy for years, either as a potted plant or as a transplant to receptive soil.

Family Fund

Often if the loved one died after a long illness, a fund has been established to help defray the cost of medical and other care. An alternative to flowers is to purchase a card and enclose a check for this fund. A check is also in order---to be used as needed---if you know the family has a financial need, but has not started an official fund.


If the loved one had a passion for some work or charity, or if the loved one who died did so of a particular illness, an alternative to flowers would be to send money to an appropriate charity. If the individual died of cancer, donate to the American Cancer Society. Most charities either let the bereaved family know of your donation or provide appropriate cards you can send or give the family to let them know how you remembered their loved one.

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About the Author

Carolyn Scheidies has been writing professionally since 1994. She writes a column for the “Kearney Hub” and her latest book is “From the Ashes.” She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she has also lectured in the media department.