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September 13, 2021

Best Sympathy Flowers: 12 Florals, Their Meaning and Etiquette Tips

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While it’s not always easy to know what to say to a person who has lost a loved one, sending flowers is an expression of thoughtfulness that brings both comfort and beauty to a sad occasion. However, not only is it important to consider the type of sympathy flower you’re giving, but also the color and meaning behind it.

Below we’ve compiled a list of the 12 best sympathy flowers along with explanations of what their color can symbolize, so you can put together a beautiful arrangement that will help you express your sympathy. We’ve also included a section on sympathy etiquette, so you can be sure you’re sending your flowers at the right time to the right place. 

Funeral Flower Color Meanings

Before choosing the type of flower you want to give, you’ll need to consider the different colors and meaning behind each when creating your sympathy arrangement. If you’re struggling with what color to choose for your flower, follow our guide below to help you choose the best option for your loved ones:

  • Red symbolizes love and beauty, and is typically given to the family of a lost loved one. If you know someone who lost a significant person in their life, we recommend sending red flowers to show your love. 

  • White is the most common type of sympathy flower color as it signifies new beginnings and remembrance. It can also represent innocence and purity, which is appropriate for the loss of a child or young person.

  • Yellow can be a representation of light and hope during dark times. Though no flowers will be able to completely cheer someone up, flowers in this color can also represent friendship and warmth.

  • Pink flowers symbolize femininity and beauty, making them a great gift for those who have lost a wife or mother.

  • Purple can be a great way to show the family that you love and care for them, and will always be by their side. It symbolizes loyalty and respect, which is something many people appreciate. 

Shop Sympathy Flowers

12 Condolence Flowers + Symbolism

Now that you have the color meanings down, it’s time to decide what type of sympathy flower is the most appropriate for the given event or situation. We’ve compiled a list of the 12 best sympathy and condolence flowers to help you show your love and support below.

1. Carnations

Carnations are known for their unique scent and gorgeous ruffled petals. These blooms are often used in funeral wreaths and commonly found in memorial arrangements. Consider red carnations to show the family that you’ll always be there for them, or pink carnations to keep their loved one’s memory alive. 

2. Chrysanthemums

Also known as mums, these unique flowers have different meanings around the world that should be taken into consideration when creating a sympathy bouquet. Asian countries see white chrysanthemums as a symbol of grief, whereas European countries view this flower as a symbol of death and only use them for memorial services or graves. In the United States, chrysanthemums are typically viewed as lighthearted flowers that honor the life of the lost loved one. 

3. Lilies

Lilies are beautiful flowers to give to the departed’s family as they are commonly associated with new chapters and beginnings. These blooms are a lovely reminder to the family that their loved one will not be forgotten and to focus on a new outlook in life. In Christianity, the lily conveys the idea that the soul of the departed has received renewed innocence. 

4. Orchids 

Orchids convey eternal love due to the flower’s ability to live much longer than other blooms. Since there are so many types of orchids, it’s not always easy trying to decide which ones are best. Pink and white orchids are the most common choice for sympathy flowers as they symbolize innocence, remembrance and memories.

5. Roses

There is no flower that can convey beauty in the way that it does quite like the iconic rose. Roses are universally used to show love and appreciation, making them a wonderful option for memorial services or sympathy gifts. Whether you choose white roses to symbolize remembrance or red roses to show your love, you’ll certainly have a beautiful bouquet in your hands.

6. Daffodils

Daffodils are cheerful blooms that can be given to celebrate a happy life. This sympathy flower is a symbol of spring, rebirth and new beginnings, which reminds the mourners that death is not the end. Daffodils are great choices for funeral arrangements thanks to their bright and colorful appearance.

  • Best for: Arrangements that represent new beginnings and encouragement

7. Forget-Me-Nots

A popular flower symbolizing remembrance and memories, forget-me-nots truly show how much the deceased meant in your life. Giving a bouquet of these blue blooms to the family of the departed lets them know that their loved one left a lasting impact on your life and their memory will not be forgotten.

  • Best for: The family of the departed; represents ever-lasting memories

8. Gladioli

Gladioli are known for their long stem with bright petals that come in a stunning array of colors. This August birth flower is an excellent choice for funeral services as it symbolizes strength and character. Giving the family gladiolus flowers reminds them of two things: to stay strong during this difficult loss and to signify that their loved one had strong character.

  • Best for: Funeral services; represents upliftment and strength

9. Hibiscuses

Hibiscus flowers are a popular flower choice to honor the loss of a mother or wife. These delicate blooms often represent femininity and beauty — perfect for those who are grieving an important woman in their life. If the deceased has cultural ties to Hawaii or the Pacific islands, hibiscuses would be a wonderful flower to give due to their strong association with the culture. 

  • Best for: The loss of a woman, often of Hawaiian or Pacific Islander descent

10. Hyacinths

Hyacinths can have various meanings, but when used at funerals they represent sorrow and anguish. Hyacinths add a sweet aroma to funeral services and tell the mourners that they’re in your thoughts and you’ll be there for them. The name comes from Greek mythology, where a Spartan prince named Hyacinthus dies in a tragic accident and the Greek god Apollo creates the flower “hyacinth” in his honor.

  • Best for: Funeral services; represents sorrow and anguish 

11. Lilacs

When looking for a flower to mourn the death of a child or young person, lilacs are the best choice simply due to their meaning and symbolism. These pretty purple flowers represent innocence, youth, and purity, making it the perfect bloom for the loss of a child. Not only does the symbolism make lilacs great sympathy flowers, but their strong aroma can help provide comfort to those who are grieving.

  • Best for: The loss of a child or young person

12. Tulips

Tulips may not be the first to come to mind when thinking of sympathy flowers, but they can be a great option if you want to send encouragement. These blooms symbolize hope and cheerfulness, which can help brighten the mood and bring some light to a dark situation. 

  • Best for: Sending families encouragement

Types of Sympathy Flower Arrangements by Situation

Once you’ve figured out what kind of flowers you’d like to send, it’s time to decide the type of arrangement you want to put together. From thoughtful wreaths to fresh cut bouquets, there’s a variety of sweet options that will show the lost loved one’s family that you’re thinking of them.

Memorial Service: Thoughtful Funeral Wreaths 

Sympathy wreaths or sprays are a beautiful way to send your condolences. They are often set up next to the casket on easels provided by the funeral home. Wreaths stand up well alongside large floor baskets. A banner can also be placed over a wreath to honor a relationship. For example, you might have “Uncle” or “Grandfather” inscribed on a wreath. 

A colorful wreath, like our Autumnal Memories Wreath, might be appropriate for a woman or someone you know who appreciated vibrant colors. For a more muted beauty, our Faithful Wishes Wreath, which consists of white roses, daisies, and carnations surrounded by greenery, is an elegant display of honor.

Bereavement Ceremony: Fresh Cut Sympathy Bouquets 

Fresh cut flowers are a popular choice for sympathy bouquets simply because they give off a sweet aroma and show the family that you’re there for them. They are the most widely accepted form of condolence and are commonly sent as sympathy offerings because they signify peace, purity and love. Consider sending white bouquets with orchids, roses, irises, or lilies to a bereavement ceremony to show your love and support. 

Home of the Mourner: Potted Plants 

Once the service is over, potted flowering plants are often carried home by the family of the deceased and live on not only as a memory of their loved one, but also of the service and your consideration. Sympathy lilies are commonly used as plants for funerals. They are available in large pots that sit gracefully on the floor beside wreaths and cut flowers, and the dark green stems highlight the stunning white flowers. Potted orchids, calla lilies, and bonsai trees are other options commonly sent in times of grieving to bring comfort to the mourners.

Sympathy Flower Etiquette 

Knowing proper sympathy etiquette is important when sending condolences to mourners. We’ll cover some etiquette tips below so you can keep them in mind when gathering your sympathy bouquet.

Where To Send Sympathy Flowers

If you prefer to honor the family’s privacy, flowers can be sent to the funeral home to be displayed during services and at the funeral. However, another option would be to send flowers to the home of the bereaved to express your condolences. Any gesture would surely be appreciated, so deciding where to send sympathy flowers is up to you.

When To Send Sympathy Flowers

If you’re planning to send flowers to a memorial service or funeral, you’ll need to plan your delivery carefully to make sure it arrives on time. However, if you’re sending flowers to a home, there is no specific timeline. Showing your support right after the death can be much appreciated by the mourners, however, some people may need time to process, so you may want to wait a few weeks or even months before ordering sympathy flowers. 

Special Considerations for Ordering Sympathy Flowers

If you’re planning on sending a bouquet or floral arrangement to mourners, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to respect the family’s privacy and wishes.

Family requests: Some families prefer to have donations made to a charity that meant a lot to the deceased, rather than having gifts sent to them.

Religious and cultural traditions: Before you send flowers, keep in mind that some religions and cultures don’t support the gift of funeral flowers and have different customs. Ask a funeral director if you’re unsure — ​​sometimes it’s best to show your sympathies by being empathetic toward their cultural rituals. 

There is no right answer when it comes to grieving the death of a loved one. However, keeping loved ones in your thoughts and showing them you care by sending a sympathy bouquet can help alleviate some of the pain they’re going through, and show them you truly care.

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