It can be extremely difficult to know what to say to someone who has lost a loved one. One of the most common ways to express sympathy to someone you care about is to send funeral flowers that are to be displayed at the service. Typically, people include some sort of message with these flowers.
The best funeral flower messages are short, heartfelt, authentic to the departed, and appropriate for the occasion. Depending on your relationships and what feels right to you, you can choose to address the message to the deceased themselves or the family.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the tradition of sending funeral flowers and give many examples of appropriate messages to include with the flowers. If you know someone who has recently experienced loss, or if you want to be prepared the next time this happens, keep reading.
Why Send Funeral Flowers?
Sending funeral flowers to the funeral home where the service of a departed loved one is to take place is a traditional and easy way to show your love and grief during this difficult time. Flowers celebrate life and are physically beautiful, which can provide much-needed comfort and joy to people during their grief.
Funeral flowers aren’t just gifts to the departed and their family. Seeing your funeral flowers displayed at the service can be quite comforting to you, too. It is a great way to contribute to the funeral and express your care for the departed without interfering with the funeral planning. Furthermore, many people write their funeral flower messages as if the departed themselves will read them, which can be cathartic.
Keep in mind that different religions have various beliefs regarding funeral flowers. The following table outlines what is appropriate for some major religions:
|What is Appropriate
|Most flowers are appropriate and appreciated.
|Most flowers are appreciated, although white flowers are considered more appropriate.
|Most Jewish services don’t include flowers, so sending them isn’t offensive but isn’t particularly helpful.
|Most flowers are appropriate and appreciated.
|Flowers are appropriate, although garlands are more common.
|Most flowers are appropriate as long as they are simple.
Nowadays, sending something other than flowers to grieving loved ones is becoming more common. I recommend reading my list of 50 appropriate sympathy gifts ideas for ideas. Additionally, many families have begun expressing their desire for others to express their sympathy through a financial contribution to funeral expenses instead of sending flowers.
If the grieving family has expressed wanting something else instead of flowers, it is important to respect this wish. However, don’t feel bad if you don’t see this request until after you’ve already sent flowers. Most funeral directors take on receiving and arranging the flowers, so you won’t be adding to the family’s burden.
Examples of Messages You Can Write on Funeral Flowers
The best messages on funeral flowers are personal to the departed and your relationship with them. Still, if you’re struggling to think of what to say, I’m here to help.
The first decision you need to make is if you want to address the message to a family member or the departed themselves. It is more common for funeral flower messages to be written as if the departed will read the message, and you can send sympathy flowers for the family member separately.
Before we get into some example messages, let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts of funeral flower messages first:
- Keep the message short. The family will likely receive many different notes and flowers in the days after their loved one’s passing, and it may be overwhelming to them as is. You don’t want to add to their stress by writing a lengthy message that will take a long time to read and respond to.
- Make the message personal. If you can, provide a short anecdote about the departed to provide some fresh insight into the departed or to reveal a side of them that the family may not have been aware of. It may also help you along the grieving process to remember a specific moment with the departed.
- Express compassion. The goal of funeral flowers is to beautify a funeral, express your love for the departed, and let the family know you’re thinking of them. A note filled with compassion may be extremely comforting to a grieving family.
- Use humor, as long as it is tasteful and appropriate. If the deceased was a known jokester in life, it wouldn’t be inappropriate for you to include some humor in your funeral flower message. However, use your best judgment, and be mindful that the family may not be in a laughing mood when they read your message.
- Try to “outdo” everyone else. This is not a competition, so you shouldn’t act like it is. Your message should be personal and heartfelt. Don’t worry about what everyone else’s message is like, and don’t try to “one-up” them or be the “best” one.
- Mention the cause of death. The family knows how their loved one died, so you don’t need to bring attention to it in the funeral flower message.
- Forget to include a message. Even if you want to send the flowers anonymously, it is polite to include at least a small message expressing compassion and love.
- Make the message religious if the family and the departed weren’t religious. It may be comforting for you to think about God or faith at this time, but if the departed wasn’t religious, the family might take offense if you mention God or God’s plan in your message.
Here are some great examples of messages you can include with the flowers:
1. “I will think of you and miss you always.”
The message is short, sweet, and authentic to how many feel after losing someone. In this case, you are addressing the departed directly, so this is most appropriate when you were close to the deceased and feel more strongly about expressing your goodbye to them instead of to the family.
2. “May you rest in peace.”
This is another classic message and expression of condolences that few will be able to find offense with, no matter what their religious beliefs may be. This message is again addressed directly to the departed, but you can easily change it to address the family by writing, “To the family of [insert name], may they rest in peace.”
3. “My memories of you will last forever.”
Many people, when they are dying or approaching advanced age, fear that the living will forget them once they pass away. Therefore, it can be incredibly meaningful for you to take the time in your funeral flower message to ensure them, wherever they may be, that this is not the case and that you’ll remember them as long as your memories of them last, which is forever.
4. “Rest in peace, [departed’s name]. I am so lucky to have known you for [number] years.”
Knowing that their loved one had a friend for many years can be a great comfort to the family, so if the departed was someone you’ve known for a long time, it might be nice to highlight this length of time in your message. This may also inspire you to spend some time reflecting on the journey you and the departed had together and spark some old memories.
5. “I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I am always just a phone call away.”
If you’re addressing the message to a family member of the departed instead of to the deceased themselves, one of the most important things you can do is show your support and let them know you’re there for them. This message is a short and simple way to do this, and it doesn’t pressure the family member to act or call if they don’t want to.
6. “May God comfort you and keep you in His heart.”
If the family is religious, it may be comforting for you to remind them that God is watching over them and with them always. However, if the family wasn’t religious, I recommend writing a different message that is more respectful to their beliefs and adheres to their belief system. It might not be very comforting to hear that God is keeping you in His heart if you don’t believe in God.
7. “My condolences to your family upon the passing of [insert name]. [He/she/they] were always kind to me, and I will miss them dearly.”
The family will likely want to remember the best traits of the departed, so if you’re able to highlight a positive quality, such as compassion, I recommend doing so. If you can, I suggest including a short anecdote with this message that highlights how the departed was kind to you. Not only does this give your message more meaning, but it will also give the family members something new about their departed they can discuss.
8. “The team at [company] are grateful for the many years we spent with [deceased’s name]. They were a wonderful part of our company and will be greatly missed.”
It is customary for an employer to send funeral flowers if one of their employees passes away, so if this is your circumstance, the above message is a respectful and thoughtful way to express your condolences. It will likely be comforting to the family of the departed that their loved one spent time at a company that cared about them.
If you’re still feeling stuck and don’t know what to say, take some time to think about the departed. Try writing out things you’ll miss about them or memories you have together. Then, use these memories and cherished traits as a guide for your message.
What Kind of Funeral Flowers Should You Send?
The right kind of funeral flowers depends on the personality and taste of the departed. If, for example, the departed loved the color yellow and was always rocking a yellow outfit, then yellow flowers would be appropriate, even though the color yellow is typically seen as a happy color and may not be traditional for use in a funeral.
However, if the departed was more traditional and reserved, you can’t go wrong with white. White is a traditional color for flowers included in funeral services, so you aren’t likely to offend anybody with this color choice.
You can send whichever kind of flowers you’d like, although choosing from more traditional flowers may be helpful to avoid offense or confusion. Here are the most common options:
- Carnations. Carnations last long and have strong and pleasant fragrances, so they’re a common choice for funeral flowers. They also come in various colors, so you can choose the color that feels most appropriate for the departed.
- Lilies. White lilies stand for peace and sympathy, so they’re another popular choice. Additionally, they are very aromatic, so you’ll be able to smell them during the service.
- Roses. Roses are universal expressions of love, whether romantic, familial, or friendly. Therefore, you can’t go wrong with sending an arrangement featuring roses.
As long as your heart is in the right place, I wouldn’t worry about sending the wrong kind of funeral flowers. In most cases, the family will simply be happy about the gift and is unlikely to overthink the flower choice. To check and make sure that your gift will be welcome, refer to the obituary, where many families have a statement about where flowers should be sent or what you should o in lieu of flowers.
For more information about funeral flowers, I recommend reading my guide on choosing flowers for a funeral.
Sending flowers is a heartfelt and traditional way to express your love and grief for a departed loved one. The best messages with funeral flowers are heartfelt, sincere, and comforting. They should also be personalized for the departed, so the family knows that you were thinking of them specifically when you sent the flowers and weren’t just going through the motions.