Sympathy flower's the what, when and how

21 April 2017

When someone passes away, while you want to express your sympathy and support to their loved ones, it’s never easy to know what the right thing to do or say is during their time of grief.

At The Flower Lounge we can help guide you through the etiquette minefield, as sending flowers is one of the most thoughtful ways of letting someone know you are thinking of them, bringing comfort and beauty to a sad occasion.

First off, what are sympathy flowers?

Sympathy flowers are typically plants or small-mid-sized arrangements addressed and sent to loved ones of the deceased.  They should not be confused with funeral flowers, which instead serve as a tribute to the deceased at the service itself and are too formal, large and inappropriate to be sent to family members.  We are absolutely able to organise a funeral arrangement on your behalf to represent you at the funeral service and recommend one of our funeral wreaths or sprays. But sympathy flowers are delivered after the event and intended for the grieving family.

When is it appropriate to send them?

Many people choose to send flowers a week or so after the funeral, when some of the initial chaos and distress has passed.  However, it’s never too late to express your condolences as, often, it can take time for the news to filter through and family will always appreciate knowing that you care.

What should I send?

A classic expression of sympathy is a mix of all white flowers, avoiding anything too flamboyant or showy.  But you must be guided by your gut on this and consider the personality of the deceased and your relationship to their loved ones. It doesn’t need to be a dark and sombre occasion. Very often, families wish to celebrate their life and flowers can bring fragrance, colour and beauty into an otherwise sober occasion. Springtime colours are a popular choice, evoking feelings of hope and rebirth.

Plants are an alternative and lovely way to show your support and can stand as a long-lasting tribute to a lost friend or family member.

Which flowers should I choose?

You may want to start by thinking about the favourite flowers or colours of the deceased, as that can be a very personal way of showing your feelings.

Alternatively, there are a few popular choices to consider:

Lilies – these are the most common as they are felt to represent the passing of the soul to a peaceful state of purity. A Peace Lily plant is an alternative with the added advantage of a long shelf-life.

Roses – white roses are considered the ultimate symbol of spirituality, but red ones are often chosen to evoke feelings of love or yellow to express a close bond.

Orchids – as well as lasting well, orchids are universally loved and serve as an ongoing reminder of a loved one.

Hydrangea – a less obvious choice but are synonymous with heartfelt emotions.

Daffodils and tulips – the Spring choice with their refreshing shades of yellow, pink and lilac conjuring feelings of new life.

What should I write on the note?

It goes without saying that sympathy flowers must come with a handwritten note in order to feel personal and from the heart. We understand it’s not always easy to know what to say or how to say it, but often families just need to know that you’re there and thinking of them.  Keep it simple and sincere.

Are flowers always appropriate?

It is important to research and acknowledge the traditions of different religions, but we can help advise if you’re not sure.  Similarly, it is worth noting whether the family have requested charity donations in lieu of flowers and respecting their wishes. 

Overall though, flowers are a touching and affectionate way to show your respect and offer your support at a difficult time which can often can mean more than a thousand words.