Family members do not often wear flowers at funerals. They are more likely to:
- Send flower arrangements to immediate family members
- Order a casket spray for the casket
- Order bouquets to travel in the hearse
- Send and ask for donations to a favorite charity of the decedent
Funeral etiquette covers every part of a funeral. There are certain things you are required to do or are recommended not to do. Etiquette applies to burials and cremations.
If you are attending a funeral soon, you want to be sure you follow the correct etiquette.
One important area you might have questions about concerns flowers. Do you need to wear or send them? If so, how should you go about it?
Flower arrangements are common at many funerals. However, I have learned that the rules regarding flowers can differ between family members and other attendees.
My research and experience cover this topic in depth. So, if you are curious about this issue, I have all the answers you need to know in this article.
Family Members Rarely Wear Flowers at a Funeral
Certainly, no one outside the closest family members wears a flower.
I have only been to one funeral where someone closely related to the decedent wore flowers. I’ll share that experience with you shortly, so you can see how and why they chose the flowers.
A corsage is pinned to a woman’s top, it is the female equivalent of a buttonhole for a man’s jacket. You can also wear a corsage around your wrist. You would not usually wear them for funerals, however.
You would only wear flowers on your person if you were celebrating something.
Since a funeral is a farewell to the person who has died, you would traditionally use flowers in other ways. Weddings and proms are the most common examples. It means that usually no one would wear flowers at a funeral.
Flowers Are Sometimes Worn for Personal Reasons
A funeral is a personal occasion. While we often follow traditions, we also comfort ourselves wherever we can. Funerals are a good example of this.
Let me share that personal experience with you to show you how this might occur. At the funeral of my mother in law, her daughter wore a corsage on her wrist. It included flowers with muted colors, so it wasn’t too eye-catching. It was small but brought her daughter great comfort. Her mom had always loved flowers and was a superb gardener.
So, just before the funeral cars arrived, her daughter picked a few flowers from the garden to add to the corsage she’d had made. They were tiny forget-me-nots, pale blue, and fortunately were in season at the time. Her mom’s garden was filled with them.
It was a tiny gesture, and few of those present at the funeral would have known about it or spotted the corsage. Certainly, no one else wore one, and we would not have asked them to.
It was reassuring for my mother in law’s daughter, though, and so it served its purpose. It supplied a connection to the wonderful mom she had lost and was saying goodbye to that day. Her mom would have liked it, we’re sure.
Casket Sprays Are Far More Common Than Corsages
A casket spray is a flower arrangement that we lay on the casket.
Immediate family members make sure the florist sends the flowers to the funeral home, ready for the decedent’s final journey.
Other, less immediate, family members often send other bouquets and flower arrangements to the funeral home too. The funeral director puts these arrangements inside the hearse, and the funeral home transports them to the burial or cremation site along with the casket.
Some May Send Flowers in Lieu of Attending
In some cases, there may be a good reason why a family member cannot attend a funeral.
For example, they might be working abroad or in hospital. I know of cases where someone did not have a good relationship with the decedent. It can make things difficult.
Other cases include instances where someone wanted to pay their respects but did not attend out of respect for those left behind. Strained family relationships exist and mean a funeral needs greater consideration about floral tributes.
In such cases, family members may not attend but may still send flowers as a tribute to the decedent. It shows the person is thought of on that day.
Alternatively, you could send flowers and a card to the bereaved family members to show you are thinking of them and send your condolences.
This means you are focusing on the bereaved rather than on the relationship you had with the decedent. It can make a tricky situation easier.
It means you are showing your respects to those who have lost someone.
In this case, you would send the flowers and the card direct to their home rather than to the funeral home. You can do this when you hear of the death rather than waiting for the funeral, especially if you do not know when it will take place.
Flowers Do Not Always Feature at Funerals
This could be because of religion. For example, Jewish funerals do not include flowers as they are not considered to be proper for this religion.
As well as the funeral, a death in a Jewish family involves seven days of Shiva after the burial has occurred. This is a period of mourning for the immediate family. If you are attending a Shiva service, you should never bring flowers to this either.
I also learned that Buddhists believe white flowers to be most appropriate for mourning. However, even in this case, I did not find any evidence that wearing flowers was an accepted practice. It seems rare in all areas and religions.
Some families ask people to make donations to charity instead of requesting flowers. The charity is usually one the deceased supported or was associated with in some manner.
In this case, there may be no flowers at all. Alternatively, only family members may have flowers, with other mourners making donations.
It might also mean immediate family members would arrange the flowers, such as the:
Other family members, including aunts, uncles, and so on, may donate to charity. In most cases, those arranging the funeral make the requirements clear when announcing the funeral arrangements.
If in Doubt, Ask the Funeral Home
Maybe you are a family member, but you don’t have contact with those who are organizing the funeral. In this case, you can always ask the funeral home for advice on wearing or sending flowers.
The funeral home should be aware of the arrangements and able to advise anyone who is unsure about any aspect of the process.
It is also often easier to do this. The family organizing the farewell have lots to think about. If you ask the funeral home, they are familiar with all the arrangements anyway.
This means the bereaved have less to cope with at a tough time. The funeral home can answer your queries professionally, and you do not need to worry about upsetting anyone.
Having reached my late forties, I have attended several funerals now. One thing I have learned is that you can never assume a funeral will occur in a certain way. Some families love nothing better than masses of flowers at a funeral. If the decedent loved flowers, this is a wonderful way to pay tribute to them.
However, in other cases, I have known the immediate family members say no to flowers and ask only for donations to a specific charity. Always respect the wishes of the family and the decedent whenever you can.
Bottom Line? Each Funeral is Personal
One thing I have learned is that funerals vary in lots of ways. There are different things that influence a funeral, such as:
- Family tradition
- The desires of the person who has died
- The relationship someone has with the decedent
I’ve seen people attend funerals in fancy dress to honor the decedent. At my mother’s funeral, the only people who wore black were the funeral director and his associates.
We didn’t want anyone else to wear black because we wanted brighter colors. Mom would have liked that. So, that’s what we did. Nothing too garish, but nothing black either.
If a family member has died and you are unsure about wearing flowers to the funeral, ask the immediate family member organizing the occasion. Alternatively, ask the funeral home handling the proceedings.
Always go with the family’s wishes or the wishes of the deceased. That way, you’ll always get it right, no matter what any experts might say. And remember that few people (thankfully) have experience of attending lots of funerals. Funeral etiquette works to an extent, but personal circumstances and desires are always most important.