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Sharon Hunter - July 2021

Flowers for a Great Goodbye

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Funeral flowers were originally used in the pre-refrigeration era to mask odours. Alongside scented candles and incense, flowers were selected for the strength of their perfume. Lavender often featured.

While flowers no longer serve their historical purpose, they have become synonymous with the funeral service. Traditionally, a professional arrangement is ordered by the funeral director and placed on top of the casket. Flowers from friends and family are usually sent to the funeral home, or perhaps the family home. Unless specifically requested, flowers are not typically brought to the service itself.

Different flowers mean different things. Here’s a small sample. Let Google be your guide if you want to know more:

  • White lilies: Considered the saddest flower and the most popular funeral bloom, lilies symbolize innocence, purity and the soul of the departed.
  • Roses: While traditionally associated with romance, roses are also an appropriate funeral flower. Each colour has a unique meaning. In a funeral setting, red symbolizes love and grief. Yellow means friendship, and white is similar in meaning to lilies.
  • Carnations: Popular for funeral wreathes and boasting a wide range of colours, carnations are among the most affordable.
  • Chrysanthemums: One of the most popular flowers around the world, their meaning varies in different countries. In Japan and Korea, chrysanthemums are a symbol of death and grief. In the US they are a symbol of truth.
  • Magnolias: Strong and beautiful, the white magnolia represents dignity and perseverance. This flower is more typically associated with the southern American states.
  • Hibiscus: A brightly coloured tropical flower, hibiscus is not a frequent choice for a funeral flower, but it does have a place. Symbolizing femininity, quiet strength and beauty, these flowers are often used for a beloved mother, sister, daughter or wife.

"It doesn't have to be flowers - consider covering the casket with candles, memorabilia and small floral arrangements in glass jars."

Like most funeral elements, there are no rules when it comes to flowers and you are not obliged to purchase a formal arrangement. By all means take another approach. Ask family and friends to bring flowers from their garden and scatter them loosely on the casket. If gardening was a passion for the deceased, you might choose to cut blooms for their plot.

It doesn’t have to be flowers

For a less feminine approach, you might select flax, grasses and ferns. What about a crystal bowl of the peaches she turned into preserves and gave away each year? Cover the casket with candles, memorabilia and small floral arrangements in glass jars.

You needn’t stop at the casket. Fill the venue with flowers in bold brights, classy whites, or serene greens. It will be unforgettable.

Check out Personalizing The Casket for some ideas.

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