From colors to associated lore and other cultural backstories, flowers do not fall short when it comes to their symbolic significance in any aspect of our lives. Some mean joy or euphoria, some entail new beginnings. Others are associated with caution or warning while others are associated with death, grief, and mourning.
In this post, some of the most common sympathy, grief, death, and mourning flowers are discussed along with their associated meanings. If you are looking for a bunch of flowers to cheer you up, remember departed loved ones or to extend oneness for someone in grief, these are the flowers that you must check out.
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In this article:
- 21 flowers that mean death and mourning
- How do you arrange flowers for mourning?
- What color flower means death?
- What flower means goodbye?
- What flower symbolizes the death of a loved one?
- What are the best sympathy flowers?
- Are there dos and don’ts when sending sympathy flowers?
- What do colors of flowers mean when you bring them to funerals?
- Is it acceptable to send flowers for all religious beliefs?
- How long have flowers been used to honor the dead?
21 flowers that mean death and mourning
When words are not enough to convey strong feelings, we can use flowers to compensate for those words. This is most likely to be experienced when we are in deep grief or mourning. As such, here are 21 flowers that mean death and mourning.
This delicate looking flower is not just a staple flower cut because of its beauty but it is also a sympathy and mourning flower.
Red carnations signify deep love and remembrance to the departed while pink carnations are used to convey sympathy or to offer sentiment or remembrance of a person to the family in mourning.
This flower is perhaps one of the most symbolic ones as it also comes in a range of colors. In the context of death and mourning, pink roses are used to express gratitude over a departed who has significantly blessed one’s life.
White on the other hand would convey a life well lived or innocence of the departed while yellow is for an enduring friendship even after death.
This one is a symbolic sympathy flower given to families who are grieving a death or are still mourning.
It means that you are willing to extend your help and presence in every step of the way and a symbolism of your unwavering support for the family left behind by the departed. It also shows that you are one with them in their expression of their grief.
In the US, this flower is commonly associated with healing and is often given as a ‘get well soon’ gift to friends and family. But across Europe, this flower is laid at the graves of departed loved ones as it is looked at as a symbol of death.
It is also considered in many European traditions as a flower which means ‘an end of life.’ As such, if it is not placed in graves, it is in funeral wreaths.
Like the chrysanthemum, this flower is often given by a sympathetic party to a grieving family. It represents strength of character and as a mourning flower, being given one means that you must find the strength to uplift yourself from the depth of loss. It is also a flower which conveys compassion at such a trying time.
6. Forget me not
As the term suggests, this flower means that the memories of the departed shall stay in the family’s hearts forever.
Having this flower around the home after a sudden death is also a statement that painful emotions are being processed and are manifested although in a silent, personal way.
These flowers are my favorite mourning and funeral flowers. Their simplicity and delicate color evoke peace and serenity which is associated with the paradise waiting for the departed and the comfort that those left behind should feel with the thought that their loved one is already in a better place.
Lilies are also said to symbolize that the soul of the departed has reached its previous, innocent state. Oriental lilies are used in commemorating the life of the departed and stargazer lilies are given to extend sympathy to the mourning family.
This one is an underrated grief and mourning flower. In general, they convey a promise of everlasting love.
Since there are many types of orchids, the pink and white ones are considered as mourning flowers as they represent the outpour of love and sympathy for those who give it and an undying love, devotion, and remembrance to the departed by the family left behind.
This small and delicate looking flower is another sympathy and mourning flower and a staple of funeral wreath arrangements. It is considered as a spring flower and as such, is associated with rebirth.
For mourners, daffodils signify that death is the ultimate beginning and not an end to life. As a gift to those who are grieving, it signifies the promise of a new beginning.
A beautiful and expensive flower, tulips represent all the beauty and good things that the departed has etched in his/her life on earth. As they come in many colors, tulips are said to signify different things for those who are grieving.
Red tulips symbolize the love and bond between the departed and his/her family while white and yellow magnify friendships, forgiveness, and at the same time gratitude.
In South and Central America, marigolds are associated with death. Wreaths of marigolds are placed in the graves of departed loved ones during the day of the dead. It is also placed in vases for the first forty days of the departed loved one as the bright color helps them in processing their grief and mourning.
12. Peace lily
This specific lily is associated to the perfection that the departed would experience after death. Culturally, peace lilies are used around the house after the funeral to wish continued peace for the souls of the departed and to prevent their souls from wandering around the earth. It also signifies rebirth and eternal life for the Christian tradition.
This one is the most common signifier of grief over a sudden death. It is meant to signify that the loss is deep, and it is something that you could not easily move on from.
To be given hydrangeas while mourning means utmost sympathy and the sincerity of love and respect that one is giving for the family left behind.
It is also called the Asian magnolia and its delicate white and yellow color and fragrance resonates a scent that you feel you have smelled before. As such, it is a mourning flower for some cultures because it carries with it nostalgia and remembrance.
Some cultures in Polynesia even use it as a mourning corsage during funerals. Other than that, the frangipani is also associated with the supernatural world and to many spirit gods and goddesses in Asia.
You would usually find wild poppies around cemetery fences so it is something that you can literally associate to death.
As a funeral plant, poppies convey remembrance and wishes of peace to the departed. They come in many colors but all of them convey the same thing in the context of death and mourning.
Since they are associated with innocence and childhood, daisies are often given to parents who lost their children at an early age. They are also staple flowers in memorials and funerals for newborn children.
They are given to mourners not only as a sign of compassion and sympathy but also to bring in brightness in the home with the hope that it could cheer them up a bit.
17. Red spider lily
This one is specifically very symbolic in Japan when it comes to death and mourning. In the olden times, they are planted along cemetery fence lines because of the many legends surrounding them.
It is believed that when someone dear to you is about to die, a red spider lily would sprout in the place where you last saw them.
18. Red camellia
This one is a meaningful death and mourning flower in Asian countries particularly in China and Japan. This flower is laid in the graves of heroes or those who are considered as noble men.
The reason for this is because it is associated with noble deaths as traced back in the time of samurais and revolutionaries.
This majestic flower is known to symbolize ‘forever yours.’ As such, in grief and mourning, dahlias are often potted or bought in arrangements by the deceased partner in life. It has an intimate touch to it as the message is just between the departed and the last love he/she left behind.
Related: Dahlia Flower Meaning and Symbolism
20. Blue iris
With its striking look, it is understandable that it is also endowed with a lot of meanings. White iris means purity while yellow iris is about friendship and passion. But blue iris means hope, faith and remembrance. This is a perfect flower to give to people who are lost in grief and those that are still mourning.
They are not just clusters of beautiful, fragrant flowers but they are also well associated with death and mourning. During the Victorian era, lilacs were worn as corsages by widows to remind them of their lost loved ones. The magenta lilac conveys resilience and moving on.
If you still feel like you need to dig deeper about flowers that mean death and mourning, here are some FAQs about them that you have to know about.
How do you arrange flowers for mourning?
Even how the flowers are arranged says a lot about how one is extending or expressing grief and mourning. Here is what flower arrangements say about death and mourning.
- Wreaths: Because they are circular, people associate death wreaths with eternal life and rebirth. Choosing the best flowers to convey that magnify the symbolism of wreaths. Cross and heart shaped wreaths are fine choices when it comes to death and mourning.
- Standing flower spray: It is like a wreath, but the flower arrangement stands on a tripod. As it is often standing beside the departed’s casket, it is the ultimate symbol for love, remembrance, and respect. It is also one of the most traditional ways of extending sympathy to a grieving family.
- Flower basket: Because it is moveable, a flower basket is an endearing choice for flower arrangements for death and mourning. They are a practical choice for funerals, memorials, or just send one to people who are in mourning.
- Potted plant: This one is a more intimate call to extend sympathy to those who are grieving. Giving a specific flower is more symbolic sometimes than a whole arrangement.
What color flower means death?
Almost always, the following colors of flowers are believed to signify death:
- Black (although very rare and it usually conveys a more negative message)
What flower means goodbye?
Flowers of goodbye or farewell differ in various traditions but these flowers here are the most recognized goodbye flowers around the world:
What flower symbolizes the death of a loved one?
For flowers that symbolize death of a loved one, you should be familiar with the following:
What are the best sympathy flowers?
If you are thinking of the best flowers to send as a gesture of sympathy and compassion in the death of a loved one, here are the most popular sympathy flowers that you should check first.
Are there dos and don’ts when sending sympathy flowers?
This could be a random question for you, but interestingly, there are certain dos and don’ts when it comes to sending sympathy flowers and it would be the following:
- Always order the appropriate floral arrangement: This depends on your degree of relationship with the departed as well as the family’s religious affiliation, among others.
- Never forget the card: To make it more personal, intimate, and endearing, do not forget the handwritten card to express your sympathy and presence.
- Forget florist brands: Go for the florists that could be there the soonest or it would also be good to research a bit about the favorite florist of the departed or his/her family if there is.
- Flowers are not just for funerals: Flowers are a gesture of compassion and oneness. Do not think that they are only appropriate during funerals. Send as much as you can, when you can, especially if they are family, relatives, or close friends.
- Do not lose sight of who you are honoring: It is not about those left behind, most of the time, but the one who is gone.
What do colors of flowers mean when you bring them to funerals?
The meaning of the flowers’ colors does not change even if you bring them to funerals instead of sending them during the wake or after the funeral. Here are the most common meanings of colors of flowers in the context of death and mourning.
- White: adoration, respect, reverence, and rebirth
- Red: love, devotion, nobleness
- Pink: harmony, peace, and grace
- Crimson: extreme grief and sorrow
- Yellow: friendship, hope
- Blue/lavender: sadness and pain
Is it acceptable to send flowers for all religious beliefs?
As we live in a multicultural world with universal human experiences like death and mourning, it is important to know when it is acceptable to send flowers to mourning friends from different religious belief systems.
- Buddhism: Yes since funerals are done at home and never in temples.
- Hinduism: It can be a thoughtful gesture but wake and funerals all happen in a day.
- Jewish: No. It would be better to send fruit or gift baskets.
- Islam: It depends on which Islamic tradition. It might be best to ask relatives first.
- Christianity: Yes. As a matter of fact, it is the belief system which institutionalized the connection of flowers, death, and mourning.
But since we are now in a liberal world and our belief systems have been integrated in multiculturalism as have been said, know that sending flowers to those who are in mourning will always be considered a thoughtful and sympathetic gesture.
How long have flowers been used to honor the dead?
Millions of years ago. Yes, you read that right. In 1951, a group of archaeologists excavated the earliest recorded remnants of flower pollens in a remote cave in Iran.
It was associated with a pool of early hominin ancestors, surrounding a supposed grave with flowers. The presence of the same burial mounds across the cave and corresponding flower pollens indicate that they used the cave as a kind of cemetery.
Cross-culturally, there is important flower etiquette followed when it comes to death and mourning. That is why it is imperative for you to know which flower choices you have when it comes to these events. The flowers symbolizing death and mourning could be interpreted from the perspective of those who are mourning and those that give them as gifts.
Be it for remembrance, expression of deep loss, or to extend respect and sympathy, it is important that the right message is conveyed at the right time so that the flowers could evoke the right emotions and symbolisms for these flowers.