Funeral flowers

Did you know that gladioli convey strength of character? That pink carnations represent remembrance? Or that yellow roses are a popular choice from friends, symbolising close ties and compassion? A gift of flowers is a wonderful gesture during times of grief and can add a very special touch to a funeral setting.

If someone close to you is grieving the loss of their loved one, flowers are a wonderful, tried and true way to show your support. Sometimes, words simply won’t do justice to the sense of loss that they are feeling – whereas a beautiful flower arrangement speaks volumes. Flowers are a symbol of life that can help to lift the spirits of those left behind.

While there are no formal rules for the types of flowers you should send, there still remains some vestige of etiquette around funeral flowers – what you send can depend on your relationship to the deceased or their religion.


How your relationship affects your floral choice

Generally, only the immediate family (the husband, the wife, children, sibling, parents and grandparents) place flowers inside the casket; and any other flowers from them are laid out closest to the casket.

Extended family members (aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews) can supply floral arrangements for the funeral, with the view that the immediate family will take them home afterwards. A traditional standing spray – with its towering array of flowers – is a popular choice here.

Beyond that, friends and other associates may want to send wreaths, baskets or bouquets in vases either to the funeral home or the immediate family’s home.


How religion affects your floral choice

Most faiths and religions allow you to send any type of floral arrangement. Yet, for some, it can be inappropriate to send certain types of flowers.

Below you’ll find the general guidelines for the more common faiths in Australia.

  • Anglican – any flowers are suitable.
  • Catholic – any flowers are suitable.
  • Eastern or Greek Orthodox – white flowers are preferred.
  • Mormon – white flowers are most suitable, but make sure the arrangement does not include a crucifix.
  • Jewish – many Jewish families prefer not to display flowers at the funeral; you may want to send a fruit basket to their home or make a donation to a charity instead.
  • Baha’i – any flowers are suitable.
  • Buddhist – white flowers are most suitable, and avoid red.
  • Hindu – mourners are expected to arrive at a funeral empty-handed, although you may wish to bring a fruit basket to the ceremony that is held ten days later.
  • Muslim – many Muslim families prefer that you send money to a chosen charity instead of flowers.

If at all in doubt, discreetly ask an extended family member what the family's wishes are.


The meaning behind flowers

The final thing to do is choose the type of flowers you’re going to send. Take some time to think about the type of message you’d like to convey, as different flowers hold different meanings.

Here is a quick guide to what some of the more popular flowers mean – often, each colour variation of a particular flower has its own meaning, too.

  • Roses – white roses symbolise innocence, red roses are pure love, and yellow roses symbolise compassion and close friendship.
  • Carnations – similar to roses, the white variety symbolises innocence, red carnations symbolise affection, and pink carnations represent remembrance. Pink carnations are popular in Catholic funerals, as it’s believed they were created from the Virgin Mary’s tears.
  • Orchids – symbolise enduring love.
  • Lilies – symbolise purity and innocence restored to the soul of the departed.
  • Camellias – symbolise gratitude.
  • Gladioli – symbolise strength of character, sincerity and moral integrity.

If you're at all unsure about what's appropriate, your florist should be able to guide you in the right choice of flowers for an upcoming funeral.

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