Funeral Etiquette

When a death occurs, knowing how to comfort those left behind is not easy. As difficult as it is to know what to say, sending flowers can be even more perplexing. What is appropriate to memorialize relatives or people to whom you are not related? How about those you've not personally met, such as the spouse of a coworker?

Societal norms and traditions evolve over time. Along with shifting rules of etiquette, the sheer availability of flowers has changed and broadened. In addition to traditional designs, mourners now appreciate the freedom to request arrangements that are less common, perhaps more dramatic or personalized.

Another marked change is the rising number of cremations. Often, when cremation has taken place, a decision is made to forego formal memorial services. Perhaps a small gathering at the home of the bereaved will be planned instead, or there may be none at all. In any case, the absence of a funeral service should not be viewed as a reason to neglect a show of sympathy.

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Which Type of Arrangement Should I Choose?

Yes, there are rules of etiquette that dictate what types of floral arrangements are appropriate, based mostly on the sender's relationship with the deceased.

The family of the deceased typically reserves casket sprays or urn arrangements. Standing sprays, wreaths, and crosses are also ordered by family members but are still appropriate to send by anyone who knew the deceased. If you are looking to send to the visitation or a friend or coworker of the deceased, a basket, vase arrangement, or plant may be the right option.

You may also memorialize someone by choosing a unique design based on their personality, occupation, association membership, or favorite hobby. Other tribute arrangements are available as well.

What is Appropriate to Send for a Cremation?

In the case of cremation, much depends on whether a funeral service is planned. If so, you may choose a tribute arrangement or any other type of arrangement not reserved for family members. If there will be a memorial service at the bereaved's home or no services, it is more appropriate to send an all-occasion type floral arrangement.

Is it Okay to Send Brightly Colored Flowers for a Funeral?

Certainly. Bright flowers can reflect the energetic personality of the deceased. They may be chosen to send a message about how you felt about that person - that, in life, they gladdened your heart and made you feel happy to have known them. Bright colors or bright monotone arrangements tend to stand out in the soft lighting of funeral homes.


Is it Acceptable to Send Flowers if the Death Notice Requests a Charitable Donation, "In Lieu of Flowers"?

Yes. Flowers at the funeral service not only add warmth and life to a somber event but are also a tangible tribute. They let the bereaved visibly know how much their loved one touched the lives of others.

Are There Special Considerations When Sending Flowers as a Group?

Sending flowers as a group is an excellent idea. When mourners pool their financial resources for one arrangement, it can be much more special and impactful. Sending any memorial as a group shows the bereaved that they have much support from individuals and groups alike.


Can I Send Flowers in a Glass Vase to a Funeral Home?

From an etiquette standpoint, this is absolutely acceptable. Furthermore, the family of the deceased may bring the arrangement home with them.

May I Send a Plant to a Funeral Home?

Yes, it is appropriate to send a green or flowering plant. Similarly, with vase arrangements, the bereaved may bring the plant home with them.


I've Missed the Funeral! Is it Still Okay to Send Flowers to the Family's Home?

Absolutely. Floral honors are always appreciated, no matter when they are received. Even if you plan to attend the funeral, sending flowers to the bereaved's home is a beautiful gesture. Some people choose to send flowers a few days or so after the funeral or services once the necessary chaos of a death has settled. This can send a comforting message to the bereaved that you are still thinking of them even though the services have passed.