Etiquette for Flowers at Funerals

by Cynthia Myers

Flowers are a common expression of sympathy after a death. Flowers at the funeral service let the family and friends of the deceased know you are thinking of them in their time of sorrow. Following proper etiquette when sending flowers will ensure your gesture is one of true comfort.

When to Send Flowers

Send a floral arrangement or plants to the church, mortuary or funeral home prior to the first viewing. If you are late and your arrangement doesn't arrive until the last visitation, this is also acceptable. Last-minute deliveries that arrive the day of the funeral or at the graveside service will disrupt the service and should not be sent. You may also send flowers or plants to the family of the deceased after the funeral. This can be a great comfort to mourners after the stress and bustle of the funeral service. Before sending flowers, verify the funeral home name and address and the full name of the deceased. The last thing you want is for your expression of sympathy to go undelivered.

What to Send

Sympathy sprays are often displayed on an easel. Large and impressive, they make a nice presentation at the service and may be transported to the graveside service as well. Wreaths are very traditional funeral arrangements. In addition to traditional round wreaths, flowers may be arranged on frames to form crosses, hearts or other shapes. These are displayed on an easel. Wreaths and large sprays are traditionally sent by family members, and several family members may contribute to the purchase of one spray or wreath. Funeral baskets are large displays in a basket or other large container. Like sympathy sprays, these arrangement make an impressive display at the funeral services. Green or blooming plants are appropriate either at the funeral service or sent to the family home. Plants may be kept long after the service is over as a memento or your thoughtfulness. When sending plants, consider the family situation. If they are visiting from out of town or health problems prevent them from caring for a plant, consider sending flowers instead. Like plants, a vase arrangement is a good choice when sending flowers to the home, though they are welcome at the funeral as well. Consider the cultural and religious traditions of the deceased and her family when sending flowers. While flowers are appropriate for Christian funerals, they may not be welcome by Orthodox Jews or Muslims. Buddhists appreciate flowers, but not red flowers. If in doubt, ask the family or the funeral director if flowers are appropriate.

About the Author

Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.