Funeral flowers were originally used in pre-refrigeration era use to mask odours. Alongside scented candles and incense, flowers were selected for the strength of their perfume to offset other smells. Lavender featured often.
While flowers no longer serve their historical purpose, they have become synonymous with the funeral service. Traditionally, a professional arrangement is placed on top of the casket, ordered by the funeral director on behalf of the family. Flowers from friends and family are usually sent to the funeral home, or perhaps the family home. Unless specifically requested, flowers are not typically brought to the service itself.
Different flowers mean different things, and it’s an interesting to think about what different blooms represent, particularly in a funeral setting. Here’s a small sample. Let Google be your guide if you want to know more:
- White lilies; considered the saddest flower and the most popular funeral bloom, lilies symbolize innocence, purity and the soul of the departed.
- Roses; while traditionally associated with romance roses are also an appropriate funeral flower. Each colour has a unique meaning. In a funeral setting red symbolizes love and grief. Yellow means friendship and white is similar to lilies.
- Carnations are popular for funeral wreathes boasting a wide range of colours and an affordable price tag.
- Chrysanthemums; one of the most popular flowers around the world, their meaning varies with different countries. In Japan and Korea chrysanthemums are seen as a symbol of death and grief. In the US they are a symbol of truth.
- Magnolias; strong and beautiful the white magnolia represents dignity and perseverance. This flower is more typically associated with the southern American states.
- Hibiscus; a brightly coloured tropical flower hibiscus is not a frequent choice for a funeral flower but does have it’s place. Symbolizing femininity, quiet strength and beauty these feminine flowers are often used for a beloved mother, sister, daughter or wife.
Like so much else with arranging a funeral, there are no rules to say you must follow convention. If you favour another approach you are not at all obliged to purchase a formal arrangement. You can ask family and friends to bring flowers from their garden and scatter them loosely on the casket. If gardening was a deeply held passion and joy for the deceased you might choose to cut blooms for their own garden.
And it doesn’t have to be flowers. For a less feminine approach you might select flax, grasses and ferns. What about including a crystal bowl of the peaches she turned into preserves and gave away each year. Cover the casket with candles and small floral arrangements in glass jars. And you don’t need to stop at the casket. Fill the venue with flowers in bold brights, classy whites, or serene greens.
Think about making room on the casket for any memorabilia that you might wish to include. Check out Personalizing The Casket for some ideas.