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Etiquette for sending flowers to a funeral

Updated April 12, 2018

It's common in many cultures to send sympathy flowers to the bereaved family when a loved one has passed away. There are many theories regarding the origin of sympathy flowers. Some speculate it's because the beauty of the flowers help to balance the darkness of death. Others say flowers were originally placed around the body to counteract the odours associated with death. Nowadays, friends and family send flowers to the bereaved for a variety of reasons, usually to convey emotion and to let the grieving family know they're in their thoughts and prayers.

Where to Send Funeral Flowers

Wait for details about flowers first. A representative of the family will call friends and relatives to update everyone on the arrangements for the wake or viewing, funeral service and cemetery service. After receiving the details, make arrangements to send sympathy flowers. Generally, flowers are sent directly to the funeral home, and the funeral director transport thems to the funeral service and cemetery. Sending flowers to a grieving family's home is frowned upon. It makes more work for them because they then have to transport them to deceased's final resting place.

Because the deceased's religion might prohibit flowers, it's always best to check beforehand. If there is a "no flowers" request, it's appropriate to send a fruit basket to the home of the bereaved.

Best Flower Arrangements for a Funeral

Consider sending large wreaths or "sprays," often sent by close family and friends. Sprays are a popular floral arrangement meant to be viewed from one side only. The bereaved family is primarily responsible for providing the casket cover, an arrangement of flowers draping the deceased's casket. Business associates and acquaintances may also send flowers; these can be smaller, tasteful arrangements in baskets and vases. If the deceased was Christian, a cross is also appropriate.

In Lieu of Flowers

If you'd rather not send flowers, you can make a donation in memory of the deceased to his favourite charity. Sending food to the bereaved is also welcome, as the last thing they want to do during this time is cook. If the family is Christian, mass cards, in which a mass is said in the deceased's honour, are also appreciated. The bereaved might also appreciate a tree seedling or transplantable potted plant. Watching bushes and trees grow in memory of a loved one will touch their hearts.

Good Thoughts

Include a card or letter with your flower arrangement. A few lines offering your condolences tells the grieving family you care. Feel free to include a special memory or story.

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