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Top 4 Sympathy Flowers and Their Symbolism

Published: January 25, 2018

Imagine you’re standing in front of rows of lilies, gardenias, and hydrangeas at a flower shop, or scrolling through images of bouquets online. You’re planning to buy sympathy flowers for a funeral you’re attending, but aren’t sure which to buy. Because there are nearly 400,000 different flower types in the world, each expressing different sentiments, this can be a difficult and delicate decision. To help you best express your condolences to those who are grieving, consider adding one of these top four sympathy flowers to the next funeral bouquet that you send.

#1 Lily

Lilies are one of the most common flowers seen at funerals, not only because of their elegance but also because of their symbolism. The lily has symbolized purity and divinity for centuries and was a symbol of the Greek goddess, Hera, and Roman goddess, Venus, in ancient mythology. White lilies, symbolizing purity and innocence, are a popular choice, along with the white Stargazer and Peace lilies. 

  • White stargazer lilies symbolize sympathy and are a great option to show your condolences.
  • Peace lilies symbolize the rebirth of the soul and transcendence. They also symbolize peace and hope.

Because lilies symbolize general sympathy, peace, and hope, they are an appropriate flower to include in any sympathy flower arrangement.  

#2 Rose

Roses are one of the most well-known flowers in the world because of their beauty and are a popular choice for sympathy flowers. In Greek mythology and early Christian times, the rose was a symbol of deep love and sorrow, and it still carries that meaning today. The array of colors each symbolize something different, with red, white, and pink standing out as the most appropriate colors for sympathy flowers. 

  • Red roses symbolize deep love, affection, and grief. This color is perfect to express your lasting love for a life partner or family member who has passed.
  • White roses symbolize innocence, purity, or deep respect, and are a good choice for the funeral of a child or close friend.
  • Dark pink roses symbolize gratitude and appreciation, while light pink roses symbolize gentleness and admiration. Pink roses are a good option for the funeral of a co-worker, neighbor, or distant relative.

 #3 Tulips

The tulip’s simple shape and color variety make this flower another common addition to sympathy flowers. The tulip originated in Persia and Turkey, where the Turkish people considered the flower to be a symbol of paradise on earth. Much like the rose, each color of the tulip portrays a different meaning. White, red, cream, pink, and maroon-black tulips are best suited for funerals and sympathy flowers.

  • White tulips symbolize heaven, newness, purity, eternity, and forgiveness, and are a good color choice for any funeral.
  • Red tulips and cream-colored tulips symbolize true or perfect love and, similar to the red rose, are a good way to express your love for a partner or family member who has passed.
  • Pink tulips symbolize caring and affection. Like the pink rose, pink tulips are good options for co-workers, neighbors, or distant relatives.
  • Maroon-black tulips symbolize power and strength and are appropriate for military funerals.

#4 Carnations

Carnations are another popular go-to flower for their sweet fragrance, color variety, and affordability. Carnations are referred to as ‘flowers of the gods,’ and are one of the oldest cultivated flowers in the world, dating back 2,000+ years. While carnations come in a rainbow of colors, white, red, and pink are the three that are most appropriate for sympathy flowers.  

  • White carnations symbolize love, purity, faithfulness, or innocence, and are a good choice for the funeral of a child.
  • Light red carnations symbolize admiration, while dark red carnations symbolize deep love and affection. Like the red rose and tulip, these are good options to express your love for a family member or partner who has passed.
  • Pink carnations symbolize a mother's undying love, gratitude, and remembrance, and are well suited for the funeral of a mother or grandmother.

When choosing the color of your sympathy flowers, it is best to stay away from bright colors, such as yellow, orange, green, and lavender. These colors typically symbolize happiness, joy, good fortune and good health, excitement, and youth. Also keep in mind that flowers can be arranged in a variety of ways: in a standing or casket spray, basket, or vase. You may also want to consider purchasing a potted plant, which will last longer, especially if the recipient is able to plant it outdoors.

Buying sympathy flowers can seem like a difficult task with so many decisions to be made, but it doesn’t have to be. We make the process easy with the option to buy flowers directly from our local area florist through our website. If you’re still in need of some help, contact a florist for more suggestions on flower type, color, and arrangement.  

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