Losing a relative, friend or someone close is always sad, and preparing the wake, funeral and burial during this period of grief is not the most pleasant experience. If you know someone who is going through this difficult process, you can support them and let them know that you’re thinking about them. In many cases the best way to do this is by sending a beautiful flower arrangement and a sympathy note.

You probably know that flowers have different associations and colours have different meanings. Knowing which one is more appropriate for a certain person or event is always useful, and even more so when it comes to sympathy flowers. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the right bouquet.

About sympathy flowers

Sympathy flowers are a popular custom when it comes to showing your thoughtfulness to a person or family member who has recently lost someone. Throughout the years, flowers have represented growth, beauty, delicacy and a sense of hope, comfort and moving forward. These are all sentiments someone who has lost a loved one needs in times of grief. Even though sympathy flowers are not mandatory, it’s a nice gesture to send them directly to a loved one of the deceased with a note. This can be arranged by the florist.

Sympathy flowers are not to be mistaken with funeral arrangements; as the latter are usually coordinated by the family.

Traditional sympathy flowers arrangements

Usually, sympathy flowers come in a small to mid-size flower basket. They should be effortless to carry and easily be placed on tables or as centrepieces, in case the family decides to take them to the wake or funeral. Remember that less is more, over-the-top or really big arrangements should be avoided.

Not all cultures welcome flowers

The last thing you want to do when supporting someone who has suffered a loss is offend them. Keep in mind that not all cultures or religions welcome flowers when someone passes away, such as Jewish and Islamic faiths. Every family is different though, and they might hold different views on the subject, so it’s always a good idea to check with them before. Some families may prefer a donation to charity or a fruit basket in lieu of flowers.

Popular sympathy flowers

As there are many options when it comes to choosing flowers, it’s always helpful to know more about what each of them represent.

White lilies

White lilies represent peace and hope. They are really popular in funerals and wakes, and their beauty and grace can also symbolise innocence. Lilies are very universal and can be found in most floral shops.


Even though roses are heavily associated with romantic love, they also symbolise respect, appreciation, beauty, and love. For example, white roses represent humility, red means love and respect, pink is appreciation and yellow symbolises hope and strong ties.


Hydrangeas are big, beautiful and versatile flowers, with many different colours. They fill any flower arrangement, and their puffy, round shape makes them very pleasant to the eye. Even though they are not traditionally associated with funerals, they are very easy to maintain and are quite sturdy, which means they can last far longer than the average flower.


Carnations, like roses, are also very common and versatile flowers. They last a long time, making them a flower arrangement favourite. Typically, pink carnations represent remembrance, while white carnations represent purity.


There are many different beautiful types of orchids, however phalaenopsis and dendrobium varieties are particularly good choices for sympathy flowers. Pink and white colours are good choices, as they are gentle and can be associated with eternal love.


In some European cultures, chrysanthemums are pretty much solely used as funeral flowers. In other cultures, such as in Asia, they represent grief. No matter the meaning, they are usually well regarded in any sympathy floral arrangement.

Calla lilies

Calla lilies have often represented harmony, hope, and peace. They are white, simple, delicate, and beautiful. They will be the focal point of any flower arrangement and will look stunning in a sympathy floral basket.


Although not usually used in sympathy flower arrangements because of their special shape, tulips can be a great choice of funeral flowers, especially if they come in a basket exclusively filled with just tulips. Their unique shape and the way they open up in time can convey a beautiful message of hope and new beginnings. Tulips come in different colours; such as white, which represents forgiveness and red, which represents love.

The meaning behind the arrangement

Bear in mind that even though choosing flowers according to their significance is always a good idea, it can also be good to think about the personal preferences of the deceased. Knowing their favourite colour, plant or flower can make a huge difference when choosing flowers to honour his or her life, and it can also mean a lot for the mourning family.

Losing someone you loved or supporting a family that has lost a loved one is never easy. Sending them flowers has been a long standing tradition, symbolising affection and remembrance. However tricky it can be to choose the right sympathy flower arrangement, we hope this guide helped you in making the decision.

Thinking of sending a meaningful bouquet to express your sympathy? Don’t forget to check all the heartfelt flower arrangements we provide here at Gift Flowers.