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Sympathy and Funeral Flower Etiquette

Published September 03, 2013        by Sarah

Sympathy Flowers

When someone you know has lost a loved one, you’ll want to send something special to let them know you are thinking of them. Sending flowers is the perfect way to show your sympathy. There are some etiquette rules you should consider before you make your call to the florist.

First, it is very appropriate to send flowers to the family of a deceased person to show you care. There are so many arrangements you can choose from. Select a local (to the funeral home) florist which you can find online or in the Yellow Pages. Have the florist send the flowers directly to the funeral home so that they arrive in time for the wake or viewing. Do not send your flowers directly to the church as they can often get lost in the commotion. If your floral delivery will not make it in time for wake hours, send it directly to the home of a close relative of the deceased such as the widow or first born child. Make sure you have the correct address. This may mean making a phone call if you are not sure.

Funeral sprays are flowers that can be hung from a display easel at the funeral home. They make a large and impressive presentation and often display a banner saying “beloved father” or “cherished grandmother.” Often, siblings will go in together on an arrangement like this as they can be costly.

Funeral wreaths are also a lovely idea. Your florist can give you an idea of which flowers to include and what size to select. These can often be left at the gravesite to decorate the grave.

A special arrangement can be made to look like a bible or cross. These are typically done in roses or carnations and are especially beautiful when the family is religious. Check with your florist for the shapes and designs she can produce for you.

Funeral sympathy baskets are a lovely choice as well. They are free-standing arrangements in wicker baskets that are designed to go around the casket. They will also be carried home by the deceased’s family to display at home.

Traditionally, you should not send a vase of cut flowers. It is better to leave those for a different occasion.

Flowers for Princess Diana's Funeral
Flowers for Princess Diana's Funeral

If you have missed the wake or visitation hours, don’t send your flowers to the gravesite. That is considered very poor etiquette as the last thing you want to do is disturb the gravesite service with a floral delivery. If your flowers did not arrive for the services, send them to the bereaved’s home. That is considered perfect decorum as your flowers will be a comfort when received after the services have ended. Try to have them arrive the day after the funeral or even a few days after. That way those who are grieving will know that you care and feel your sympathy when they need it most. The shock of the death will still be fresh and your kindness will be much appreciated.

Make sure the florist includes a card with your first and last name. If you haven’t seen the person in some time, tell the recipient who you are. A note such as “Uncle Bob’s cousin from New Jersey” is perfectly acceptable to have the florist write.

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