Did you know that there are some flowers that represent death? Believe it not, beautiful, abundant blooms also have a connection to grief and mourning. In fact, certain cultures have a list of specific flowers that are symbolic of death and considered inappropriate for gifting. Intrigued? Read on as we discuss in detail the features of flowers representing death.
The beautiful and delicate daffodil flower is frequently used in funeral wreath arrangements and considered a mourning flower. There are many symbolisms associated with the flower. One such symbolism comes from the fact that daffodils originate in spring and thus indicate rebirth. By gifting a daffodil, you are suggesting that death is not an end of life but just a new beginning. As such, the daffodil is one of the most commonly gifted flowers representing death.
The most commonly known of all flowers, the luscious rose comes in a wide range of colors. Roses are one of the most commonly acceptable flowers representing death. Mourners often use pink roses to express their regard for the dearly departed. The color yellow has an association with friendship and gifting yellow roses is commonplace on a friend’s funeral.
In Europe, Chrysanthemums are a common mourning flower because of their association with death. In some European cultures, the flowers symbolizes an end to life and are usually used for funeral wreaths and placed at the graves of departed souls.
Red carnations are a staple of mourning and signify intense regard for the passed souls. The vibrant color of red carnations is the perfect antidote to deep grief and one of the best choices amongst flowers representing death.
Forget me not
True to its name, the forget me not is offered to the deceased’s family as a statement to forever remember those who passed too soon. As such, the quirkily named flowers are also one of the most commonly used flowers representing death at funerals.
Gladiolus represent strength of character and are offered to provide strength to the family of the departed. The flower also signifies compassion and concern.
The simple and humble Lily is a common funeral flower because of its serene and peaceful associations. The flower is offered to express comfort and healing to those left behind. Lily is also considered an innocent flower and suggests that the departed soul is now at peace.
A less common but no less powerfully symbolic, orchid is offered by a sympathetic party to the grieving one because of its association with everlasting love. Pink and white orchids are the specific varieties of orchids that are presented at somber occasions like funerals.
Certain cultures in South and Central America consider the marigold to be a flower associated with death. In fact, marigold wreaths are placed in graves during the Day of the Death Festival as the bright and vibrant color is meant to lift the spirits of the grieving.
Peace Lily is a specific kind of lily flower that is associated with mourning. The Peace Lily is meant to symbolize that the departed is in a better, more perfect place. The flower is also placed around the house after the death of a loved one to prevent the departed souls from returning to the earth. In Christianity, Peace Lilies symbolize rebirth and eternal life.
The lavish and exotic Tulip symbolize beauty and vibrancy and as such are suggestive of a full and complete life lived. Different colors of tulips have different meanings. Red tulips suggest the love and closeness between the departed and his/her loves ones and yellow symbolize friendship and gratitude
Hydrangeas are a common mourning flower and is suggestive of deep grief and regard for the departed soul.
The delicate and fragrant frangipani, also referred to as the Asian magnolia contains beautiful white and yellow buds. The flower is considered to carry deep nostalgia and as such some cultures associate it with happy memories of those that passed away. In Polynesia, it is used in some places as a mourning corsage and word during funerals. Frangipani is considered to have deep ties with the otherworld and to spirits in Asia.
The pretty and innocent looking daisy is said to symbolize childhood and as such is offered to parents who have lost young children. You will often find daisies being given during funerals of newborn children. Daisies are offered to expressed compassion, sympathy and memories of the innocent souls passed away too soon.
The bright and bold Poppy flower might not seem like a natural choice as a mourning flower. However, wild poppies are frequently found growing in cemeteries and in funeral homes. All kinds of Poppies are considered appropriate for funeral offerings.
Red spider lily
In Japan, the Red Spider Lilly holds deep significance during periods of death and mourning. In ancient times, the red spider lily would be planted along cemetery fences in Japan because of the symbolism with death. The lore goes, when a person close to you dies, a red spider lily would begin growing shoots in the last place you saw them.
Several Asian countries like China and Japan consider the vibrant red camellia to carry deep meaning as a mourning flower. In particular, the flower is offered and laid at the graves of heroes, warriors and other noble men. The flower carries associations with the death of noble samurais and rebels.
The big and bold Dahlia is meant to suggest a lifelong association with the dearly departed. In particular, the flower is connected with a closed intimate partner’s death and used during mourning.
The pretty flowers have a long lasting association with death and mourning. In fact, during the Victorian times in Britain, lilacs were worn by widows as corsages on their clothing as a symbol of remembrance. The magenta colored lilac flowers are meant to express strength and moving on.
The exquisitely striking blue iris carries deep meaning with respect to death and mourning. The white iris symbolizes purity of spirit while yellow iris is suggestive of deep passion or friendship. Blue iris in particular is meant to convey hope, faith and remembrance. The flower is offered to the grieving to provide support and compassion.
Propriety in Flowers for Somber Occasions
By now, you know that flowers make for perfect expressions of grief and mourning. However, it is important to follow correct etiquette while offering flowers to loved ones and the grieving.
The most obvious step if you are a guest to a funeral is to ensure flowers are actually welcome by the grieving family. Make sure to check the death announcement or the funeral invitation to confirm information regarding funeral flowers. Many families ask that instead of funeral flowers, donations be made in the departed’s name while some families might ask for virtual flowers.
Once you’ve confirmed that flowers are indeed welcome, make sure you are certain of where to send the flowers. Usually, the invitation will convey this information. But if in doubt, do confirm the same from the family or fellow attendees. The family’s home is an obvious place to send flowers. This is an especially appropriate option if you’re a close friend or family yourself.
If you are not that close to the grieving, send flowers to the funeral house or memorial location. You may take the flowers there yourself or send them through post or a friend. The florist can help you in this regard. This is especially appropriate if you intend on the flowers being used for display.
Keep in mind that not all cultures consider all kinds of flowers as appropriate. In fact, some cultures may not even have an existing tradition of funeral flowers. You may mean well but before sending flowers, ensure they are appropriate in context. Some cultures may prefer monetary gifts or donations to funeral costs in lieu of flowers.
Islam and Judaism are two cultures that do not traditionally welcome flowers during funerals. According to Jewish tradition, the funeral must be conducted within three days and without delay. As such, flowers are not necessary. However, Judaism does not expressly prohibit flowers. Within Judaism itself, there are some sects that accept flowers and some don’t. Fruit and food is the more common gift to the bereaved during the mourning period in the religion.
At Islamic funerals again, flowers are not as common as Christian funerals. Some people may send flowers but it is not customary. Flowers however are commonly used to line graves. Hindu funerals also do not commonly have a traditional flowers but you would not be in appropriate in sending some. Buddhist funerals do not welcome red flowers. However, white and yellow colored flowers are acceptable.
Last but not least is the decision regarding whether to attach a note with flowers. As a funeral is a somber occasion, attaching an elaborate note with flowers might feel disingenuous, a short note only makes sense.
Send a note along with the following arrangements of flowers representing death and you will be golden.
- Wreaths – A common arrangement of funeral flowers usually placed atop a funeral casket, the round shape of wreaths symbolizes eternal life.
- Floral arrangements – Bouquets and baskets or individual flowers are all appropriate floral arrangements to present during a funeral.
- Sprays – Sprays are arrangements that can only be viewed from one side.