Funeral flower etiquette can be different for every culture and religion. It is very important that before attending a funeral or wake that you know the religion’s customs. Even though you may think that everyone would appreciate receiving flowers, it is not appropriate in some cultures.
During this difficult time, it is important for an individual who is planning to either visit the funeral or send flowers to the family to learn about the funeral flower etiquette of the deceased’s family. Flowers may be delivered in person or sent to the family’s home. Or, the flowers may be delivered to the funeral service, burial, or wake. Depending on when and where the flowers are sent, the etiquette may vary. For example, it may not be appropriate to arrive at the funeral with flowers, but it may be acceptable to send flowers to the family a few weeks after the funeral.
The following are some religions and their funeral flower etiquette. If you do not find the information below and are still unsure about the etiquette, refer to the obituary. The family will often include at the end of the obituary some information on whether or not they would like to receive flowers, donations, or other memorial gifts.
Funeral Flower Etiquette by Religion
Roman Catholic Funeral
Flowers are acceptable during funeral wakes and services of Roman Catholics. The flowers can be sent to the church, funeral home, family’s residence, or to the wake. An individual can also send donations to the family of the deceased if they have requested them in lieu or flowers.
A Protestant funeral ceremony celebrates the deceased person’s life and highlights the afterlife. Flowers are appreciated by the family and can be sent to their home or sent to the funeral home or church. The family may also request that donations be made to a charity they have selected.
During a Mormon funeral flowers are acceptable, but an individual is advised not to send flower arrangements in the shape of a cross. Crosses and crucifix are not permitted because they believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. It is advised to offer condolences and provide flowers before or after the funeral.
Funeral flowers are not appropriate in Jewish traditions. Individuals are highly encouraged to send donations. A rabbi performs the funeral service and the deceased is buried right after his death. The family sits in mourning for seven days and fruit and food baskets are taken to the home.
A Buddhist family will accept flowers, but you should never send red flowers. White flowers are the traditional Buddhist flower color and are preferred. Also, it is not appropriate to send the family food. A donation may be made if the family has selected a charity.
Whether or not to send flowers to a Muslim family depends on their beliefs. Some people believe that the Islamic emphasis on simplicity makes sending flowers inappropriate. However, some people will say that sending a simple flower arrangement is ok.
A Hindu funeral takes place within 24 hours of death. Mourners should not bring anything to the funeral and not exchange greeting with other guests. A ceremony is held 10 days after the death where fruit should be brought for the family, but flowers are still not appropriate.
The funeral flower etiquette for the religions listed above give you the typical procedure for giving flowers. However, no matter what the religion the family may have different preferences. Often families prefer donations to a charity they select in lieu of flowers. Or, the family may not want flowers or any gifts at all. If you are unsure, refer to the obituary for more information. If there is no information in the obituary, you could ask a relative or close friend of the family. If you are still unsure, give the family a sympathy card and express your condolences for their loss.
Updated: April 21, 2013