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Home » Flower Facts » Sympathy Floral Guide

Sympathy Floral Guide

It is never easy comforting a relative, friend or associate who has lost a loved one. People are often uncertain as to the best way to show their sympathy. Flowers have traditionally been sent to the funeral home for display during the viewing and service.
Many people are unfamiliar with the terms used by florists for sympathy arrangements. The following descriptions are the most commonly used terms:
  • Wreath: A floral presentation often used because a circle symbolizes eternal life.
  • Spray: Flowers designed for viewing from one side only. Sprays are often placed on an easel.
  • Floral Arrangement: A mix of fresh flowers displayed in a vase, basket or other container.
  • Casket Spray: Flowers designed for the top of the casket - usually ordered by the family.
  • Inside Piece: A general term to describe small floral designs placed inside the casket. Examples include satin hearts, nosegays or small sprays.
Ask your BOTANICA florist for details regarding the variety of options available in floral sympathy arrangements.


Sympathy Flowers
Throughout the world, funeral flowers have played an important role in funeral customs because of their fragrant beauty and comforting qualities. What’s more, they serve as a herald of hope reminding us of the spirit of life. In ancient times, tradition called for loved ones to use flowers and herbs to anoint the bodies of the deceased, while aromatic flowers and plants were used to decorate the burial site. Today, flowers remain one of the most beautiful ways to express our condolences when words fail us. During times of sorrow, sympathy flowers are messengers of hope when it’s needed most. Need help getting started?
I just heard the news… Is it too late to send funeral flowers?

No matter when you hear the sad news, sending flowers is always appropriate. You can choose to send a flower arrangement to the service or home of the surviving family members.

What if I don't know what to send to a funeral that is out-of-town?

There are many types of services, from traditional funerals to memorial services. It is appropriate to buy and send a funeral flowers to any of these services. If you are sending flowers to a service that is out-of-town, ask that the local florist who delivers the order to fill it "according to local customs." Then they will send the style of design that is best suited for the service.

Celebration of Life Funeral Flowers

We collected money among the people in our office to send flowers. How do we sign the card?

You can sign it with the name of the business or group or use the individual names on the card. Try to keep the name list as concise as possible. You might want to get a larger greeting card and have everyone sign it as you collect the contributions. Then bring the card to the flower shop and they can attach it to the design you are sending.

Are there certain types of sympathy flowers that are not appropriate for sending to a funeral?

Every flower when tastefully arranged is appropriate for expressing sympathy. That being said, for designs that are going to a memorial or funeral service, larger flowers are usually used to create dramatic tributes. These might include gladioli, snapdragons, lilies, standard chrysanthemums, carnations and roses. Small-scale flowers in mid- to small-size designs are used for sending to the home. These may include carnations, roses, spray roses, alstroemeria, lilies, daisies, liatris, delphinium and stock. You may also want to browse Flower Color Meaning and Meaning of Flowers to impart special symbolism or intention to your gift. For specific ideas on what to send, read our suggestions for the service, home and casket below, which include some of Teleflora’s most popular funeral flowers.
Basket of Life

The obituary says "In lieu of funeral flowers," but I still would like to send flowers – is this appropriate?

Yes, flowers are also appropriate in these situations. Many people choose to send a token of remembrance to the service or family home as well as a donation to the charity indicated.

I am not certain where the service is being held. Can the florist help me?

If you have the name of the deceased and the funeral home, most florists have the obituaries on hand to check them. You can trust the florist to get the sympathy flowers to the funeral on time.

I am not sure how to sign the card. What should I say?

Most enclosure cards are pre-printed with messages like "Deepest sympathy" or "With love and sympathy." All you need to do is sign your name. You should use your first and last name to avoid confusion for the family. If there are a group of names, you should spell each one for the person taking the order to make sure he or she has the correct information.

Yellow Hope Chrysanthemums

Gentle Thoughts Sympathy Standing Spray Funeral Flowers For the Service
Flowers sent to the service are living memorials to the deceased. If you have missed the service, send flowers to the family home. Most often, a flower bouquet in a vase or a basket of flowers is sent to the service. You could also send another type of floral gift, such as a wreath, an easel or a standing spray. In some locations, a green or blooming plant is also appropriate. Some families request designs that can be sent to local hospitals or nursing homes afterward to be shared with their patients.
Gentle Thoughts Sympathy Spray
I want to provide an arrangement for the service, but I don’t know what the set-up will be that day.

Consider an arrangement designed on a freestanding easel, which allows your gift to be enjoyed with ease on the day of the service. A subtle, graceful blend of whites, pinks and peaches, the Gentle Thoughts Funeral Spray makes a tasteful addition to any funeral service. Hand-arranged and delivered by a Teleflora florist, the spray includes pink carnations, symbolizing pride and beauty, white spray chrysanthemums for fidelity and rose accents for enduring love. Another option is the classic Cherished Moments Spray, which also arrives on its own self-standing easel. The arrangement is a traditional palette of white gladioli and snapdragons accented with brilliant red carnations.

I would like to send a less somber arrangement that celebrates life.

A funeral service is as much about gaining closure following a death as it is about celebrating the delight and energy the deceased brought to life. For that reason, selecting vibrant, colorful and bright flowers are just as appropriate and can add a joyful note of remembrance to an otherwise somber occasion. The Celebration of Life Standing Spray is a vivacious arrangement of orange gladioli and roses, yellow gerberas and hot pink asters that offers a spirit of renewal and hope.
Funeral Flowers Hope and Honor Cross

Warm Thoughts Sympathy Flower Arrangement

I’d like to send flowers to the memorial that can also be enjoyed at the viewing and church service.

For multiple day services, it is best to send flowers that will be designed in a container with water or floral foam. This will keep the flowers fresh for the longest possible time. Design styles include vase arrangements, baskets and container designs. One such example is the Most Memorable Tribute, which includes a vibrant mix of gerberas, carnations, spray roses, larkspur and snapdragons that have been arranged in a green jardiniere. Plants are also an excellent choice as they may be enjoyed in the home long after the services are over.

I want to honor our loved one at the church service in a symbolic way.

While there are many Christian symbols that pay thoughtful tribute at a funeral service, one of the most striking is the traditional cross. A classic emblem of memorial and faith, this Hope and Honor Cross is composed of a rich carpet of white chrysanthemums, which themselves are an ancient symbol of pride and beauty. A vibrant cluster of red carnations sweeps across the cross, providing a stunning contrast and lovely focal point.

Sympathy Flowers For the Home
Blooming Garden Basket of Plants
Flowers sent to the family are sympathy expressions of comfort, peace and hope. They say "I'm thinking of you." Any number of floral arrangements are a welcome gesture, including centerpieces, plants or even a small teacup with flowers. Some choose a small garden of green plants, accented with a blooming plant for color. And even if a few weeks have passed since the death, flowers are a comforting reminder that friends are still thinking of the family throughout the grieving process. In some cases, particularly in Jewish cultures, a fruit or gourmet basket is greatly appreciated by a family who is receiving out-of-town guests during the mourning period. This type of gift does double-duty, delivering your condolences while helping to care for and nurture family and friends.
I’d like to send a gift that will last longer than flowers.

While many of us think of flowers to express sympathy, plants are a perfectly lovely — and lasting — way to show you’re thinking of them. In fact, the Blooming Garden Plant Basket is wonderful mix of both, combining the staying power of plants with the vibrant hues of flowers. This rustic rectangular farm basket is filled with blooming African violet, azalea, miniature rose, hypoestes and ivy plants.

Another excellent choice is the Yellow Hope Chrysanthemum Plant, which has been adorned with birch and placed inside a natural basket. Grown for more than 2,000 years in Chinese gardens, chrysanthemums are a symbol of fidelity and of the sun, providing a message of light and love during this difficult time. A beautiful way to express your condolence and compassion, plants can be enjoyed for months to come.

I would like to send a gift to the home that’s reverent and not too showy.

When it comes to expressing your condolences in a classic manner, nothing is more elegant than a mix of all-white flowers. White flowers have long represented humility and reverence, while also sending a message of loyalty. The White Expressions Sympathy Basket includes a mix of white carnations, gladioli, larkspur and snapdragons that have been designed in a traditional style inside a funeral basket. This is a good choice if you’d like to send an arrangement that can be sent to the service and also enjoyed afterwards in the home.

Another uplifting option is the Basket of Light, which features a sweet wicker basket overflowing with white carnations symbolizing beauty, larkspur for an open heart and roses for enduring love. This simple, elegant basket expresses your deepest sympathies with a message of hope and grace.
TPink Roses Teacup Sympathy Flowers

Fruit Gift Basket Sympathy Flower Arrangement

Though it’s a sad time, I’d prefer to send a bright, colorful arrangement.

Keep in mind that a sympathy arrangement doesn’t necessarily have to be dark and somber. During this difficult time, you can help remind the family to celebrate the life that was lived.. Flowers add beauty to an otherwise somber atmosphere and provide a comforting diversion during the visitation. For example, this Warm Thoughts Arrangement is filled with springtime colors — pink, yellow and lavender tied with pink ribbon — a lovely reminder of hope and rebirth.

I’d like to send a classic arrangement that can be enjoyed at the service and at home.

A traditional sympathy arrangement often begins with a classic white funeral basket with handle. The Basket of Faith features pastel-colored blooms in soft pink, white and yellow. This compassionate gift delivers your heartfelt regards and includes carnations symbolizing beauty, asters for patience, daisies for loyalty and gladioli for admiration. And because it is designed using hydrated florist’s foam, it will last in the home after the services have concluded.

Sympathy Flowers For the Casket
Funeral Flowers White Orchid Casket SprayThe tradition of adorning the casket with fresh flowers is typically reserved for the closest family members, often the deceased’s children or those making the funeral arrangements. For that reason, it is recommended that you inquire with the family before ordering a gift of flowers for the casket.

A floral arrangement designed to sit on top of the casket, or casket spray, is available in two types. A lid spray, also called a full-couch casket spray, extends the length of the casket, while a foot spray, or half-couch casket spray, is shorter and is intended to be used for a half-open casket service. The style of casket spray and the flowers you choose to include is entirely up to you. Some feel most comfortable with a classic, traditional look, while others might opt for a highly personalized tribute based on a particular theme. For example, a rustic, natural spray for the outdoorsman or an abundance of bright flowers for the avid gardener. Shop our collection of Casket Sprays or browse a few Teleflora favorites below.
Simple and Stunning

Pure white flowers coupled with deep green foliage always make a beautiful, reverent focal point for a funeral service. The Blooming White Orchids Casket Spray takes this pairing one further by including exotic cymbidium and dendrobium orchids. A stunning display against a background of tropical greenery, the orchid has long been a symbol of love, beauty and wisdom. This is a classic tribute with an added note of sophistication.

Lovely and Reverent

Overflowing with an abundant mixture of fresh white flowers, the Pure White Casket Spray is a heartfelt classic. Representing humility, purity and truth, white flowers are a lovely choice to express everlasting love and reverence at the service. This traditional spray includes carnations representing beauty, larkspur for an open heart and lisianthus for love.

Warm and Bright

Designed for a youth casket, the Drop of Sunshine Casket Spray imparts warmth and vitality on an otherwise somber occasion. With a lovely white and yellow palette of blooms, the flower arrangement pays tribute to a life that was lived with joy and hope. The spray features chrysanthemums for fidelity and gerbera daisies for innocence, all gathered together with a bright yellow ribbon. This spray is a lovely choice to convey a message of life, faith and optimism.
Funeral Flowers Casket Spray Peach Comfort

Pure White Casket Funeral Flowers

Comfort and Solace

This pleasing mix of fresh flowers is an ode to the color peach, one of nature’s most comforting and soothing hues. For those looking for a classically designed casket arrangement that also imparts warmth and tenderness, Peach Comfort Half-Couch Spray is an excellent choice. This stunning arrangement is decorated with gerbera daisies symbolizing loyalty, larkspur for ardent attachment, lilies for virtue and roses for everlasting love.

Soft and Pretty

This Delicate Pink Casket Spray is a beautiful tribute to a favorite lady — mother, grandmother, sister, aunt — who brought so much joy and spirit to the lives of those around her. The feminine spray includes a gorgeous mix of light and dark pink carnations, a flower that symbolizes beauty and has been cultivated in the East for more than 2,000 years. This classic half-couch casket arrangement is a bright and pleasing focal point for the day of the service.

No matter which floral arrangement you decide best expresses your sympathy, you can count on Teleflora’s high standards for freshness, beauty and personal attention. During this difficult time, we hope you’ll find comfort in the fact that your condolences will be delivered with special thought and care.
Information Courtesy of Teleflora Canada. Copyright Teleflora 2010