It’s never a great moment. Someone has passed away, and you’re suddenly thinking about sympathy flowers. This is an area charged with emotion and is also the kind of time where many cultural and religious issues are very present.
However, it can also take on a more positive light that can bring people together. To achieve this, it’s important to be mindful of your actions and choices throughout.
If there’s any doubt at all, it’s proper that attendees should make the necessary inquiries to find out what is preferred. It is very easy at times like these to hurt the feelings of others, and it should be avoided wherever possible.
We tend to think that flowers are pretty much general. By this view, any lovely bunch of blossoms will be fine, and the kind of service won’t matter much. The trouble is, that’s wholly mistaken on all counts.
In certain religious traditions, flowers are never given at funerals. This is true of most Jewish and Islamic funerals, as well as Hindu rituals. Similarly, Buddhist traditions regard white as an appropriate color for funeral rites, but expressly not red.
Getting it right in religious and cultural senses could avoid a dire faux pas or committing an unforgivable insult to other mourners. Adding to the grief of folks who are already suffering a loss is cruel, even when unintentional.
Much of the symbolism of flowers has been lost in our modern world. The important connotations have faded away with time, it seems. However, it’s precisely at occasions like funerals that people recall meaningful things to mind again.
Lilies are widely considered to be the most appropriate flowers for funerals. Given that the lily symbolizes innocence, its presence at a funeral illustrates that the departed soul has regained its innocence through death.
Roses are also well received at many funerals, with the white ones having a similar meaning to lilies. The red ones symbolize both love and grief and therefore work very well. In the case of yellow, the symbolism is friendship, which can be acceptable too.
It’s important to choose your floral tribute according to your relationship to the deceased, as well as the mourners. If you’re closely related, it is appropriate to go for the larger sprays, posies, sheaves, and the like.
It might be viewed as needless ostentation if you bring a large spray when your relation to the departed is distant. Getting the maths right on this one is necessary if you want to avoid upsetting people.
Unless you’re immediate family, it’s always best to err on the side of humility. Go small, and go plain. Arriving with a large, multicolored spray will tend to indicate a lack of seriousness on your part, as well as a lack of solemnity.
A lot depends on the type of service. In cases such as a Catholic funeral, people will usually gather around a casket to witness it being lowered into the ground. Here, it’s thought correct to bring flowers right beside the grave and place them directly on the coffin.
In Hindu ceremonies, flowers are never brought in bunches but are instead worn as garlands by the mourners. Similar traditional burials have many variations on this theme, so it may be good to discreetly inquire beforehand.
For cases involving cremation, it’s probably a good idea to send flowers to the home of the departed one’s family instead of the service itself. For Jewish mourners, flowers are not appropriate or seemly at the service, or during shiva afterward.
It’s a sad thing when we lose someone, even when the deceased is quite distant to us. It’s the kind of time that makes people think more profoundly about things, and so it can also be a time for reaching out to others.
By keeping in mind a few simple things, we can be respectful to the dignity of those who mourn, as well as of those who have left us. It’s a time, above all, for us to reflect on the symbols and meanings we bring with us in our daily lives.