For all of time, it seems, flowers have featured in funeral services around the world. But how did this tradition begin?

For centuries, because of their intrinsic healing properties and their pleasant perfume, flowers were often placed near those who were dying in an effort to restore their health.

Today, flowers are a colourful celebration of life and a visual expression of our feelings.

Flowers speak words that can be too difficult to say during a time of grief. A beautiful flower arrangement, delivered to the home of a grieving family can express love, sympathy, sorrow, honour, admiration and respect in a way that sometimes words alone simply can’t.

At a funeral service, flowers create a backdrop that’s both warm and beautiful… an element of joy on an otherwise sombre occasion and they are a reminder that for the rest of us, life continues and should never be taken for granted.

In The Secret Life of Plants, Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins document Dan Carlson’s ‘Sonic Bloom’ theory. He discovered that the morning chorus of birds is more than just wakeful chatter. They are literally singing life into the world around them.

Underneath leaves, the stomata of plants are stimulated and dilated by unique vibrations caused by the birds’ song, causing them to take in nutrients and moisture from the air. The more bird life there is, the more abundant plant life there is.

In their own, secret way, flowers remind us that life is new every morning… and we need each other to grow and thrive.

However, it’s becoming more common now to see ‘Please omit flowers’ or ‘in lieu of flowers’ on funeral notices. There can be a number of reasons for this…

Loved ones can be very aware of family and friends travelling great distances to attend a funeral and may want to release them from the added obligation of buying flowers. Or they may be thinking ahead to what happens after the funeral. Dealing with dozens of bouquets can seem cumbersome to grieving families on top of everything else that needs to be done. Or the deceased may have especially requested that loved ones make a donation to a particular charity they supported during their life, as they may feel this is a more beneficial use of their money. Whatever the reason, it’s important to respect their wishes and a humble arrangement can be placed on their grave or memorial at a later time.

If you have a special request regarding flowers at your own funeral, make sure you let your family know when you pre-plan or pre-pay your funeral.

Flowers for Funerals – and their meanings

The lily symbolizes the innocence that has been restored to the soul of the departed. The white lily expresses majesty and purity.

Strength of character, sincerity, and moral integrity.

Red carnation is for admiration, pink carnation for remembrance and white carnations are for pure love and innocence. Pink carnations are ideal for Catholic funerals as they are believed to have been created from the Virgin Mary’s tears.

Red symbolizes love, while white symbolizes innocence.

White roses are the ultimate symbol of spirituality, purity, and innocence. Red roses stand for respect, love, and courage. Pink roses stand for love, grace, appreciation and gentility. Dark crimson roses are for grief and sorrow. A dark pink rose symbolises thankfulness for the deceased. Yellow roses are given by friends of the deceased to symbolize their strong ties. A single rose in a bouquet expresses enduring love for the deceased.

‘I will always love you.’ Pink and white are traditional colours of sympathy.

Daffodils and Tulips
Tulips represent elegance and grace. White represents forgiveness. Yellow tulips and daffodils stand for renewal and fresh starts. Purple represents royalty. Red represents perfect love.