When someone you know loses a loved one it’s understandable that you want to offer them support. Sometimes that is easier said than done. You want to offer comfort, but are scared of doing or saying the wrong thing. What if you say the wrong thing in a condolence note, or break form proper funeral flower etiquette? While it’s important to keep in mind that your thoughtful gesture is what your friend or loved one will remember most, here are some easy to follow guidelines for proper funeral flower etiquette.
Is there a difference between funeral flowers and sympathy flowers?
Yes, there is a difference between funeral flowers and sympathy flowers. Funeral flowers that are meant to be displayed at the funeral service are sent directly to the funeral home. These types of arrangements are larger and very formal. If you are sending funeral flowers meant to serve as a tribute to the deceased, be sure that you don’t’ address them to a particular family member. These are meant as a way to provide respect to the deceased, and should not be sent to any surviving family member in particular.
Sympathy flowers, on the other hand, go right to the deceased’s home. These should be sent directly to a loved one of the deceased, like a family member, business associate, friend, or acquaintance. Aside from the destination, these floral arrangements also differ from funeral flowers in appearance. They are typically smaller floral arrangements and serve as a reminder of the deceased loved one.
When should I send funeral flowers? How late is too late?
Sending funeral flowers and sympathy gifts is always appropriate no matter how late. Etiquette—and common sense—dictates that funeral flowers need to be sent before the service. However, if you missed the deadline for this, it’s perfectly okay to send flowers or other sympathy gifts to the home of the surviving loved ones.
Can I still send flowers if they request a donation “In lieu of flowers” in the obituary?
It is becoming more common for families to request a donation to a favorite charity of the deceased in lieu of flowers. It’s best to respect their wishes during this trying time, but that does not mean that you cannot send flowers in addition to a donation. Your donation will honor the request, but your flowers can add some beauty to their lives and brighten their day.
What types of flowers are appropriate to send to a funeral service?
Sometimes choosing what flowers to send is the most troubling part of sending funeral floral arrangements. You want to pay tribute to the deceased but struggle with worries that your choices aren’t appropriate. While some options are more popular than others, the good news is that every flower can be tastefully incorporated into a touching funeral arrangement.
Keep in mind that funeral flowers are typically larger arrangements than normal, so large flowers that create a dramatic effect are great options. These include lilies, roses, gladioli, snapdragons and more. If you are sending sympathy flowers to the home, smaller scale flowers are best.
What if I’m not sure where the service is being held?
What’s great about local florists is that they can be extremely helpful. Typically, if you know the name of deceased and what funeral home they are at, the florist can check local obituaries. Local florists have much of their business residing in funerals, so you can rest assured that they will take care of your order and make sure that it arrives at the service on time.
How should I sign the card accompanying my funeral flowers?
It’s understandable that you don’t want to say the wrong thing, but the accompanying sympathy note might actually be the easiest part of your process. The sympathy cards often come pre-printed with sympathy messages like “With love” or “My deepest sympathy.” All you will need to do is sign your name. To avoid confusion, it’s best to sign your full name.
Can I send a sympathy gift in addition to flowers?
Any kind gesture of caring or support will be appreciated during this time. If you send floral arrangements to the funeral or the home of the surviving loved ones, it’s still acceptable to send sympathy gifts. Memorial jewelry is one option for a sympathy gift, but you can also send garden stones, wind chimes or other fitting sympathy gifts. This can be a trying time for your friend or loved one and your thoughtful gift can help brighten their day and offer much-needed comfort.