Funeral Etiquette: Flowers & Corsages

Written by kathleen gasior
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Funeral Etiquette: Flowers & Corsages
Flowers carry meaning beyond words. (WhiteRose1 image by mathieulaprise from Fotolia.com)

Etiquette regarding funeral flowers has a long and varied history. Customs vary from region to region and culture to culture. Flowers can be a beautiful way to express what cannot be said in a time of loss and sadness. Some families place great meaning on the flowers sent or displayed at a funeral, while others prefer that the money be spent on a donation to a preferred charity.

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Tradition

"Traditionally, flowers are sent to the funeral home, church or mortuary once the news of the loss has been announced," according to SympathyCardEtiquette.com. Funeral flowers are meant to provide beauty and comfort for the mourners and to symbolise the continuation of life.

Cultural Customs

Funeral flower customs are usually based on religious preference. For example, the Jewish funeral tradition does not include sending flowers, yet the Catholic tradition welcomes them. FuneralEtiquette101.com suggests that if you are unsure, ask someone who is close to the family what they feel is appropriate.

Meaning of Flowers

Each variety and colour of flowers carries a traditional meaning. Funeralwise.com has a list of the meaning of individual flowers. For example, forget-me-nots symbolise true love, and rosemary and lavender convey remembrance. White flowers are considered to be especially meaningful in the Eastern Orthodox religions.

Types of Arrangements

If you want to send funeral flowers, there are five types of arrangements used widely, according to sympathyEtiquette.com. Wreaths are circular floral arrangements and represent eternal life. Floral arrangements encompass cut flowers, basket and container arrangements. Sprays are designed to be viewed from one side only. Casket sprays are usually ordered by immediate family members and sit on top of the casket. They are often chosen in the deceased's favourite colours. Inside pieces are items placed inside the casket, such as small floral sprays.

Funeral Etiquette: Flowers & Corsages
Lavender symbolises remembrance. (Lavender image by Borzwear from Fotolia.com)

A Word on Corsages

Whether family members should wear corsages at a funeral seems to be a topic for debate. According to the EtiquetteSchoolofOhio.com, it is inappropriate because a funeral is a sombre occasion and corsages are generally worn in celebration. However, if the family prefers to view the funeral as a celebration of one's lifetime, then it is matter of personal discretion.

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