Funeral Flower Etiquette
Sending funeral flowers to a relative or friend after they experience a loss is a generous use of your time and money. You will help decorate the funeral, show your support, and brighten the day of those in attendance. You will provide a measure of comfort in keeping with the traditional funeral customs.
However, this gift of yours does not come without a few considerations. As is the case with all things funeral-related, there are a few etiquette rules you should adhere to as you make your choice and prepare to express your sympathy in the form of flowers.
What Type of Funeral Flower Spray Should I Send?
The flowers that grace the top of the casket (or go inside the casket in the deceased’s hands) are usually up to the immediate family. Because they provide the “centerpiece” of the funeral, the family will determine color and flower type—and will make their own financial arrangements to pay for it. To send this type of flower without first talking to the family about it is considered rude.
The larger display flowers (on stands or easels, in the shape of a cross or large wreath) are typically sent by family members and friends who aren’t in the immediate circle, but are still very close. If you’d like to make a contribution and are close enough to the family that it wouldn’t be considered an imposition, you may want to consider a display stand.
Smaller bouquets and individual vases are welcomed by just about anyone. These types of funeral flowers are also easier on the wallet, so they provide a great way to show your support without spending a fortune.
In some cases, it might be better to send no flowers at all. Religious considerations (such as if the deceased practiced Judaism), eco-friendly concerns, and “in lieu of” notifications all require that you skip the funeral flowers entirely. It is considered rude to ignore these types of situations, so you may want to send a condolence card instead.
What Type of Flowers are Appropriate?
Just as the arrangement of funeral flowers matters, so too is it important to choose the right kind of flowers. For example, a dozen long-stemmed roses are not right for a funeral, and choosing something in hot pink or neon blue might clash with the somber tone of the day.
Traditional funeral flowers like lilies, carnations, roses in subdued colors, and irises tend to work well, as do any flowers that provide a more understated kind of elegance. Most flower companies have a special catalog of funeral-appropriate options, so try to stick these where you can. Handmade bouquets from your own garden might also work well, but try to work directly with the funeral home to get these put together and delivered so as to not put an additional strain on the family.
What Can I Expect in Return?
General funeral etiquette dictates that a family should thank you personally for the flowers and/or send a thank-you card in the weeks that follow. However, allowances should always be made for grief. If you don’t receive recognition for your funeral flowers, it’s best to confirm with the funeral home that they arrived as planned (as opposed to confronting the family about it), and be content with that.