There are many ways to use flowers in funerals. They are colourful, meaningful, aromatic and can create an optimistic, welcoming atmosphere at your gathering.
They have also been a part of burial practice throughout human history and prehistory. Archaeologists have found evidence of flowers at ancient gravesites across the world, such as the mint, figwort and sage impressions at Mount Carmel in Israel, dating to 10,000 BC. Ancient Egyptians used dried lotus flowers in their tombs and as a symbol of the cycle of life, death and rebirth. We continue to find meaning in flowers at significant transitional moments.
Here are some of the ways you might use flowers in a modern funeral:
Single stems in funeral ceremonies
A single rose can be a symbol of enduring love for the person who has died.
The offering of a single flower at a funeral can form a gentle ritual – you may want yours to go inside the coffin with your person, or invite your guests to bring their own single stem to place on the coffin during the service. Perhaps people would like to pin a flower on their outfit as a sign of respect and togetherness. Some funeral flowers are individually striking, like the sunflower or the orchid, and can be the perfect representation of your person. Think about what is seasonal too!
Writing with funeral flowers
You can use funeral flowers as an artistic medium in themselves, spelling out words and names, or even making images with their colours. Chrysanthemums are generally the best option for this. With their clear, varied colours they are a practical choice but also have meaning. In some European countries, Korea, and Japan, the white chrysanthemum is symbolic of death, lamentation, and grief.
Floral decoration at funerals
Coffin sprays are a popular choice and can soften and complement the coffin itself, which will of course be a focal point on the day. Flowers placed on top of the coffin are a gift to the person who has died and can be chosen to reflect their personality and tastes. Think about including rosemary or lavender to add interest into the foliage and bring a gorgeous scent. Lilies are a traditional choice symbolising majesty, purity, and a return to innocence.
More options to consider
While you’re thinking about all these ideas, do be aware of practical elements. For example, it’s worth considering how well the funeral flowers will need to last. Logistically, some flower arrangements can be large and cumbersome to carry around to different locations. We want everything to look its best and run smoothly on the day with minimal fuss.
You could decide to really go to town and decorate the funeral and wake venues with big, bold arrangements. Have a plan for what to do with the flowers following the service or gathering. Whatever funeral flowers you choose you could invite people to take one home with them at the end of the day to dry or press and keep.
Not everyone is a flower fan – funeral flowers can be replaced by all sorts of meaningful objects in all of the above scenarios. Find ideas for other finishing touches here. If you prefer mourners not to send sympathy flowers, it is also fine to ask for alternative gestures such as charitable donations.
You don’t need to use a florist, for a personal touch we can support you to do the flowers yourselves.
If you do want professional support, excellent local florists we love include: