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♥ The Etiquette of Sympathy Flowers ♥


Flowers have long been tied to both burial rituals and expressing condolences for a loss. In ancient times, flowers and herbs were employed by loved ones to anoint the body of the deceased, and traditionally aromatic flowers and vibrant plants have been used to decorate the burial site. With their natural beauty, brightness, and fragrance, flowers add a soothing element to an otherwise somber event, and remain one of the most beautiful forms of expression when we find ourselves at a loss for words. 

Despite the time-tested role flowers have assumed in times of sorrow, untangling the etiquette of sending sympathy flowers can be tricky during emotional times. Florists offer both knowledge and experience to help navigate the customs and best practices of sending either sympathy or funeral flowers. In addition to their insider perspective of the floral industry, local florists are tasked with keeping abreast of current trends in sympathy tributes and often with coordinating directly with funeral homes and families. Florists can advise whether a funeral home or cemetery has any restrictions on what flowers are allowed at the service and if they have filled other orders for attendees, they may be able to advise on a complimentary theme or color scheme.

Traditionally, casket flowers or display arrangements will be coordinated by the deceased’s closest family members. Even if you were not very close with the deceased or the family, though, sending a bouquet is a comforting gesture to remind the family they are in your thoughts. If a family or funeral home requests charitable donations “in lieu of flowers,” sending flowers in addition to making a donation is still appropriate as flowers can add warmth and comfort to the service. Larger, more dramatic arrangements tend to be reserved for the memorial or funeral service while smaller to mid-size bouquets are a better choice to send directly to someone’s home. People may choose to personalize their tribute with elements that reflect the character of the deceased; for example, someone who was an avid gardener or outdoorsman can be honored with greenery or garden flowers.

The right words for expressing sympathy can be difficult to come by, but the most important thing to remember in times of grief is showing the affected that they are thought of and cherished. Flowers are a beautiful and naturally uplifting offering to express condolences. There is rarely an “inappropriate” type of bouquet or arrangement to send, however discussing the options with a practiced florist in advance helps quell any doubts. Don’t let apprehension overshadow your impulse to reach out; allow flowers to say what you can’t in words.

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