Humans have admired and cultivated flowers for thousands of years. They liven up our homes, show our loved ones we care, and serve as a way to honor the dead.
Maybe you’ve never had to choose flowers for a funeral, let alone send them. With so many different types of flowers available, how do you know which ones to send? Or, should you even send them at all?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Determine if Flowers are Appropriate
- Step 2: Decide on Your Budget
- Step 3: Choose a Service or Florist
- Step 4: Pick the Types of Flowers and Arrangement
- Step 5: Write Your Note
- Step 6: Send Flowers to the Correct Location
The family of the deceased will likely make it clear if they are not accepting flowers. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with showing your support with a beautiful display of fresh flowers. Even a small bouquet can show enormous thoughtfulness.
It’s becoming more common for families to request donations to certain charities in lieu of flowers. This request may be a family wish or the wish of the deceased person. It could also be because family members or other guests of the memorial have allergies.
If the family is having a non-traditional funeral service or celebration of life somewhere other than a funeral home or religious site, you should keep this in mind. Ordering a huge bouquet and sending it to an unprepared venue, rather than the family’s home, will create quite a hassle. Imagine if the family had to lug a huge flower arrangement around in their packed car!
Overwhelming the family’s home with flowers may not be such a good idea, either. If you have concerns this will occur, don’t worry, just be creative. You can think of other alternatives and how you can help the family in another, more practical way. Offer to help tend to their yard, clean their house, do a grocery run for them, or cook a homemade meal. You can never go wrong sending a simple sympathy card and should plan to do so regardless.
What if the family still gets overwhelmed by flowers or gifts? Hospitals and other care facilities often welcome donations to brighten up their spaces. You could offer to help bring the extra flowers there.
Flower arrangements can range in price from relatively affordable to pricey. Depending on where you shop, the average price ranges from $50 for a nice, small bouquet to a couple hundred dollars for larger displays. Keep in mind potential shipping costs while you're shopping, especially if you anticipate the need for an expedited option.
You may also wonder if you need to tip the driver or delivery service. A good rule of thumb is to budget for a small tip if you interact with the delivery person. Some services may allow you to do so upfront, or they may have a service fee already included.
If you have a tighter budget, don’t worry, keep in mind the cost of shipping before you commit to a lavish arrangement. Shop around at different locations and watch for any discounts that you may qualify for. You can also pool funds with your coworkers or neighbors and send an arrangement together.
After you have a better idea of what you’re willing to spend, it should be easier to select the right flower service for you. If you’re still on the fence about selecting a specific service or florist, you can contact the service directly.
If you’re having flowers delivered in a different state or area, you can contact the florist and ask if they know the area where the flowers are to be delivered. You can also reach out to the funeral home where the service is taking place and ask for recommendations. Many florists offer same-day delivery, but it’s advised to have the flowers delivered the day before the funeral.
If you're open to purchasing flowers online, you'll find a big selection at the following sites:
There’s a good chance that if the family is accepting flowers, they may list a preferred variety or color—likely the favorite of the deceased. If you happen to know a favorite of the deceased, you can’t go wrong sending that, either.
Flower types and meanings
If you’re entirely unsure what flowers to pick, you’re not out of luck. There are some flower types and varieties that are more popular for funeral services or mourning. Here are a few:
- Lilies: suggest peace and innocence of the departed soul, a common choice of funeral homes.
- Peace lily plant: symbolize innocence and rebirth of the departed soul, lives a long time in a person’s home or office.
- Roses: different rose colors have slightly different meanings, red expresses love and grief.
- Orchids: symbolize eternal love and will last longer in a person’s home or office.
- Chrysanthemums/Mums: show sympathy and honor.
- Carnations: these flowers are versatile and express innocence.
- Hyacinth: show that you have the deceased person and his or her family in your prayers.
- Hydrangea: interpretations vary, but show heartfeltness and care.
Different types of arrangements
There are also a few different types of arrangements, such as the following:
- Bouquet: a bouquet will likely arrive in a vase and is a good option to send to a person’s home or workplace.
- Floral basket: a floral basket can go anywhere throughout the service and easily transported compared to other options. It makes sense to send these to the family’s home or the facility of the service.
- Standing spray: a standing spray requires an easel to display it and takes up quite a bit of space. It makes sense to have these delivered to a graveside service or funeral home.
- Wreaths, crosses, or hearts: these large arrangements are typically displayed near the casket or close to the deceased person if he or she was cremated. It does not make sense to send these to the family’s home.
- Dish gardens or plants: it makes the most sense to send larger, heavier arrangements of assorted plants directly to the family’s home.
Depending on who will receive the note you’re attaching, you may want to change your tone or message. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to share a brief memory or anecdote about the deceased person. Family members of all ages will likely welcome the stories or hearing how much the person meant to you.
Even if the deceased person died suddenly or due to a long-term illness, you should keep the tone of your message warm and loving.
If you are sending flowers directly to the funeral home or church, they are technically received by the deceased. In this case, address your note to this person, and send a separate sympathy card to the family. This is a great way to get a sense of closure between you and the deceased, especially if you don’t know the members of their family very well.
If you are sending the note to a younger family member, make sure to speak to them accordingly—they probably won’t want to read a long, complex message. Instead, they will want to find comfort in your words. It can be as simple as, “I am thinking of you and wish you all the best.” Or, “My prayers are with you during this difficult time.”
If the recipient or recipients are known for having a sense of humor (perhaps a favorite family joke or line from a movie) you might include this. Always use your best judgment, of course, as people process grief differently. Be respectful, above all else, and you should have no issues.
Need more ideas? Check out our long list of suggestions and ideas for sympathy notes for funeral flowers.
Needless to say, sending flowers to the correct location is important. The location is likely listed in the death announcement or obituary. Be sure to double-check the name and address of this facility closely.
If you are attending a graveside service, it’s important that the flowers make it to the correct spot. Keep in mind, sending a vase of flowers would not be practical. There are specific flowers for graveside services, such as flower wreaths.
But what if you’re sending flowers prior to the event? There is likely a designated person at the funeral home, church, or chapel to accept the delivery. This is often part of the memorial planning process.
Trust Your Judgment (or, Ask a Friend)
When it comes to funerals, maybe you have no idea what to expect in the first place, let alone what flowers to send. If all else fails, trust your gut, either about sending flowers or selecting the bouquet your recipients would like the best.
If you’re still doubting your taste, even after this article, feel free to reach out to a friend to help you choose. When it comes to dealing with death, support in any form is often the most important thing.
If you're looking for more on funeral flowers, read our guide on how to make funeral flower arrangements at home.
- Picard, Caroline and Amanda Garrity. “The Meaning of Every Rose Color.” Good Housekeeping. 23 Jan 2019. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/valentines-day-ideas/g1352/rose-color-meanings/?slide=2