Last Updated on October 24, 2016
Flowers have a rich tradition of use at central life events. Whether congratulations for a birth or condolences after a death, flowers are always appropriate and convey a deep sense of import and significance. Here are thirteen popular funeral flower meanings to help you choose which flowers to use at a memorial service, funeral, or as a sympathy gift.
Note – many people may not be aware that memorial cremation urns are available in a wide variety of styles and designs, including many of these types of funeral flowers. We’ve illustrated several of the flower types below using our gorgeous floral urns; if your loved one was a gardener or flower devotee, we hope that these designs may serve as ideal memorial urns to honor their memory. You can view our complete collection of flower cremation urns here.
The lily flower symbolizes purity and innocence. With its characteristic fragrant aroma, the lily as a funeral flower presents the idea that the departed soul has returned to a peaceful state of innocence.
Also suggestive of the purity found in new birth and new life, lilies are perhaps the most popular flowers used for funerals.
The symbolic meaning of orchids is universally recognized: Enduring, everlasting love. These gorgeous and unique flowers come in a vast array of colors, each with additional “sub” meanings:
- White: Innocence, beauty, elegance.
- Pink: Grace, femininity, innocence.
- Purple: Dignity, respect, royalty.
- Yellow: Friendship, new beginnings, happiness.
- Red: Love, passion, courage.
Perhaps the only funeral flower with a commonly recognized meaning than orchids, roses symbolize love. For the various colors and their meanings, see the colors listed for the orchid above.
White roses are the most common at funerals, but one additional color is often also associated with memorializing a loved one: Crimson roses represent grief, sadness, and mouring, with additional symbolic meanings of rebirth and renewed love.
The gladiolus flower conveys moral integrity, strength of character, faithfulness, and, significantly for funerals, remembrance.
Often used in funeral wreaths, carnations come in a variety of colors. Red carnations depict admiration, white connotes innocence and pure love, and pink carnations convey remembrance.
The delicate petals of the camellia flower represent deep longing, perfection, and excellence. Also used to evoke longing, gratitude, and refinement.
Red tulips are typically used to convey perfect love, while white tulips symbolize forgiveness or worthiness. The meanings symbolized by white and red tulips make them popular for a wide variety of situations when used as funeral flowers in memory of a loved one.
Violet flowers, with their light airy petals in deep-hued purple, often symbolize delicacy and modesty. Not traditionally used in funerals, the violet flower nevertheless has a deeply significant history of meaning which is making a resurgence. According to Garden Guides,
…the [violet] flower is associated with death–and resurrection. The symbolism likely springs from antiquity, when a number of myths featured violets in the death of heroes and even an Earth God named Attis. Combining this death symbolism with modesty and maidenhood creates a meaning for violet of death too soon. Shakespeare’s tragic Ophelia was linked to violets in “Hamlet.”
9. CHRYSANTHEMUMS (“Mums”)
In the United States, mums symbolize truth. However, in much of Europe and in many Asian cultures, white chrysanthemums are generally used only at funerals and signify death, mourning, and grief.
Hyacinth flowers are used at funerals to add a sweet fragrance to the flower arrangement. When used in this way, hyacinths represent deep sorrow. The origin of this meaning traces back to ancient Greek mythology. From LoveLivesOn.com:
Apollo (the sun god) and Zephyr (the god of the west wind), both completely adored a young boy named Hyakinthos and spitefully competed with each other for his attention.
One day, Apollo was teaching Hyakinthos the art of throwing a discus. Zephyr, in a jealous rage, blew the discus back. In the style of a true Greek tragedy, the discus struck Hyakinthos’ head with such force that it killed him.
From Hyakinthos’s blood, a beautiful and fragrant purple flower grew. In his sorrow, Apollo named the flower ‘hyacinth’ for the boy he loved so much.
As their name implies, forget-me-nots signify faithful love, memories, and remembrance. At funerals, the forget-me-not flower conveys a message of abiding love for the deceased, and that they will always remain and live on in your memories.
White lilacs are often used at funerals to represent youth and innocence. Thus, the lilac is popular for use at a young person’s funeral, or as a memorial tribute to one known and beloved for their good heart or childlike nature.
The hibiscus is considered a very feminine flower, and is often used to symbolize femininity, a beloved wife, and delicate beauty. Because of its prominence in several island cultures, the hibiscus can also signify an association with Hawaii or Haiti.