Why are Flowers the Common Choice to Send for Funerals?

By: Ian Elliott
Friday, March 11, 2016

Flowers have the power to say many things, and perhaps one of their most important functions in some cultures is their ability to express sympathy and grief when a loved one passes away. Along with showing support for the bereaved, flowers are also a way of paying tribute to the dead, and showing respect for those who are no longer here. The custom of using flowers as part of farewell ceremonies is an ancient one, and while the particular symbolism associated with certain flowers may change over time, their ability to express otherwise inexpressible emotions does not.

The Tradition of Burial Flowers

The first discovered use of burial flowers in human history dates back 62,000 years, which is a clear indication that our species has a long and rich history of associating flowers with death. In more recent times but before modern embalming techniques were perfected, strong and aromatic herbs and flowers were used at funeral services to cover the smell of a decaying body. Today, many of the modern customs that are observed regarding funeral flowers came from the Victorian period, when current traditions were born about what type and size of floral arrangements were appropriate for farewell ceremonies.

What Do Flowers Mean Today?

Funeral flowers are, primarily, a way of saying things that you may not otherwise be able to express. With the simple gesture of sending flowers to a funeral service or the home of the deceased, you can express sentiments such as:

  • “My thoughts are with you”
  • “I am sorry for your loss”
  • “We are here to support you in your time of need”
  • “The deceased will be missed”

Flowers are also meant as a visual gesture of comfort, they show respect for the dead, they demonstrate your love and affection for the deceased and the bereaved, and they express feelings of sympathy and shared grief.

Furthermore, specific flowers symbolize different things, so you can use them to express complex emotions and abstract ideas about innocence (white lilies, peace lilies, chrysanthemums, and white carnations), affection and love (orchids, chrysanthemums, and red roses and carnations), and friendship (yellow roses).

Bringing Life and Beauty to Death

In the world of symbolism, flowers have always represented the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Just like the human body, a plant is born, grows, lives, reproduces, and then dies. So not only are flowers a beautiful and expressive way of showing your love, sympathy, and respect, but they are also a reminder of a good life lived. They are also a warm and welcoming way to make a funeral home seem more hospitable, and they can later be used by the bereaved as a token of the love everyone shared for the deceased.

Using flowers as a symbol of life and death and as part of farewell ceremonies is nearly as old as humanity itself. Today, flowers can be used to express a great number of sentiments and emotions when a loved one or friend passes on, and not only do they show your respect for the dead, but they also demonstrate a sense of community support and love for others in their time of grief and need.


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