What’s the Best Time to Send Flowers After a Death?

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Commenting on rules of etiquette is always tricky, and funeral flower etiquette has its own rules. Even this simple act requires a lot of decisions. Should you send flowers or a plant? Should you send them to the funeral home or the family member’s home? To whom should the flowers be given? 

Jump ahead to these sections:

In general, many people choose to send flowers to the funeral home as soon as those arrangements are announced. This is assuming that a visitation or funeral will occur within that building and scheduled within the week.

We’ve included some other questions that may come up regarding funeral flower etiquette and how to show the family you care. 

When Should You Send Them to a Funeral?

Anyone can send flowers to a funeral. Funeral flowers and plants are displayed at the service. They are pleasant distractions and can beautify the surroundings. 

When you make arrangements for the delivery, let the local florist know when the funeral will occur so the stems can look fresh for the service. 

Here are some situations to consider.

  • Send flowers to a funeral when you knew the deceased but you didn’t have a relationship with any specific family member. You can address the sympathy card that accompanies the arrangement to “The Family of (Deceased).” 
  • Send flowers (or a plant) to a funeral if you cannot attend. This tells the family that you would like to offer sympathy for their loss even though you won’t be at the funeral.
  • You can also send flowers or a plant to a funeral that you plan to attend. Flowers and plants are appropriate sympathy gifts, and maybe you prefer to send a plant instead of dropping off a casserole or purchasing another memorial item for the home.

When Should You Send Them to a Loved One’s Home?

Several scenarios might encourage you to send flowers to a loved one’s home.

Send flowers to the family member’s home if there will only be a simple graveside service or scattering ceremony. 

You may also consider sending flowers to a family member’s home if the service is delayed weeks or months. While you can send flowers to a funeral that occurs months after the person died, sending a plant soon after the death shows that you are thinking of the family at that moment. 

You may want to send flowers to a family member’s home if you want to make sure that the arrangement goes to a specific person. This problem can be solved by simply addressing the display that you send to the funeral to a particular person. You may feel more comfortable sending the gift privately. 

Sometimes families have to travel a great distance to attend the funeral of their loved ones. If you would like to send a houseplant for the family to keep, send the plant to the family’s home address after the funeral occurs. 

You can also send flowers to the family if they're holding a virtual funeral using a service like GatheringUs. Ask whether or not they're accepting flowers beforehand, as well as whether they'll be displaying flowers to online guests. 

When Should You Send Them to a Loved One’s Office?

You may consider sending an arrangement to a person’s office address. Here are some scenarios to describe when this would be appropriate.

Your colleague or client may have lost a member of his immediate family. You may not know enough about the situation to send flowers to a funeral home, and you may not know the home address of your business associate. Instead of ignoring this life-altering event, consider sending a plant to his or her office. 

Plants are probably better choices than flowers in this scenario, and they should only be sent if you are sure that someone will be present at the workplace while the mourner is on leave. You might give a heads up to the person’s co-worker to care for the plant while the grieving person is gone.

What Can You Send if You Feel It’s Too Late to Send Flowers?

You may have had good intentions, but you did not follow through with sending flowers for a friend’s funeral. Maybe the family specifically asked that donations to a charity be made in lieu of flowers. Here are some other gift ideas to give to someone who is grieving a loss. 

Food

Food could be an appropriate gift for families who requested that flowers not be sent. Food gifts are especially helpful if your friend is hosting a lot of out-of-town guests.  

Photo frame

Even if your friend lost her mother a month ago, you can still feel confident sending a photo frame to the grieving family member. This gift would even be appreciated on the death anniversary or deceased family member’s birthday. 

Personalize the gift by having it engraved. Choose an image off of social media to place in the frame for your friend. 

Wind chimes

Wind chimes make lovely gifts for those who lost a family member. Purchase wind chimes for people who have a yard or other outdoor space to hang them.

Search online or at a local gift store for windchimes designed for someone in mourning. They may have a quote or verse engraved on them to show the reason for the gift.

Angel figurine

If the grieving family has specific spiritual beliefs, consider giving the family an angel figurine to display in their home. 

Stepping stone

Spend time in your local garden shop’s gift section to find an appropriate stepping stone to give to someone in mourning.

These items are usually for decoration and may be engraved with a message of sympathy, Bible verse, or image of a cardinal or butterfly. 

Tree

It may be too late to send flowers to a funeral. Instead, you could wait for the appropriate tree-planting season in your local area and purchase a tree or bush for the family in mourning. 

You may consider purchasing a tree in the name of the deceased to be planted for an ecological project in the U.S. or across the world. These charities will supply you with a certificate to give to the family members so they know the donation has been made in their loved one’s name.

Other Things to Consider When Sending Flowers

Most of the time, casket sprays are purchased by the members of the immediate family. This is not something you would send unless making arrangements with the person planning the services.

You can leave flower arrangements at the grave of the deceased. While some families take the flowers home or to local churches or nursing homes for others to enjoy, a family inundated with flowers may simply choose to leave them in the cemetery. Usually, the cemetery staff disposes of these items within a week of the funeral. If you want to purchase something that the family would enjoy for a more extended time, consider purchasing a houseplant.

Finally, you may not be a “flower person,” and you may be stressed about making the appropriate choice for funeral flowers. Do not worry about making the incorrect choice. Most funeral delivery websites categorize arrangements based on the event. If you coordinate your purchase over the phone, simply tell the florist the reason for the floral delivery and the florist will choose something appropriate. 

If you're looking for more condolence ideas, read out guides on military funeral flowers, pet loss flowers, and sympathy gift ideas other than flowers.

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