It’s never easy to know how to express your condolences when someone you care about experiences the loss of a loved one. While words can never truly take away the pain of losing someone close to you, sometimes the most simple gesture – like sending a bouquet of sympathy flowers – can make the grieving process more manageable.

As you will realize, sympathy flowers have different meanings. You may send a standing spray to a funeral service, whereas you would send a more personal arrangement, like a sympathy basket, to the bereaved’s home.

To help you choose the right type of arrangement for your needs, here’s a guide with the ten most popular sympathy flowers and their traditional meanings.

White Lilies

Lilies signify new beginnings, hope, and purity. They are one of the most popular sympathy flower arrangements for funerals. The flowers encourage the family to consider a new outlook on the future where their loved one is not forgotten but celebrated.

Because white signifies innocence and purity, the flowers are a tribute to the deceased’s life. They are also ideal for a loss of a child or young person. Christians, too, embrace white lilies as they signify a transition to eternal life.


The meaning of roses depends on their color. For example, white roses represent innocence and purity, while yellow signifies joy and friendship. Red roses, of course, are associated with love. 

In the context of sympathy flowers, however, all colors symbolize comfort. Sending roses to the memorial service or the bereaved’s home is a gesture of support that says, “I’m here for you.” Roses are also an ideal choice for bereavement bouquets.


Carnations are one of the most inexpensive flowers and are available in a wide range of colors. For this reason, they are a popular choice for sympathy bouquets and arrangements. 

While the meaning of carnations can vary depending on their color, in the context of sympathy flowers, they are a symbol of remembrance. Pink carnations, in particular, are associated with a mother’s love, making them an ideal choice to send after the loss of a mother. White carnations, on the other hand, represent innocence and pure love.


Chrysanthemums, also known as mums, are available in various colors. White mums represent truth and sincerity, while red ones signify love. Yellow mums symbolize slighted love, whereas purple mums convey royalty. Chrysanthemums symbolize grief and lamentation. As such, they are a popular choice for funeral services.


Gladioli, also known as sword lilies, get their name from the Latin word for “sword.” The flowers are tall and have a long stem with tiny blooms that open from the bottom to the top. The gladiolus is popular for sympathy bouquets as it symbolizes strength and character. The flowers are also often used in funeral sprays and wreaths. They remind the family to be strong in the face of adversity.


The iris is popular for sympathy bouquets and arrangements as it symbolizes hope. The flowers are also often used in funeral sprays and wreaths. Irises typically come in shades of blue, purple, and white. The blue iris is seen as a symbol of faith and hope, while the purple signifies wisdom and compliments. The white iris symbolizes purity and innocence.


Orchids symbolize eternal love, luxury, and strength in sympathy bouquets and arrangements. Orchids are also a popular choice for funeral sprays and wreaths.


These cheerful blooms are a sign of spring and new beginnings. The yellow flowers are a symbol of hope and rebirth. For this reason, they make an ideal choice for a sympathy bouquet. The flower arrangement reminds mourners that death is not the end but a new beginning.


Hyacinths at funerals symbolize deep sorrow. They come in many colors, but blue is the most popular color for sympathy flowers. The blue hyacinth is a symbol of constancy and faithfulness. The sweet aroma reminds mourners that you’re thinking about them and will always be there for them.


Lilacs have a sweet fragrance and symbolize love, innocence, purity, and youth. They’re an ideal choice when mourning the loss of a child or a young person. The purple lilac symbolizes first love. 

Flowers to Express Heartfelt Condolences

Which Are The Considerations When Choosing a Sympathy Flower Arrangement?

Your Relationship

When choosing a sympathy flower arrangement, consider the relationship between you and the deceased. Are you a close family member or friend? Are you a colleague or acquaintance? The closer the relationship, the more personal the arrangement should be. Red is a perfect color for expressing love, while white is more appropriate for a platonic relationship.

The Deceased Person’s Favorite Flower or Color

If you know the deceased person well, choose a flower arrangement that features their favorite flower or color. This small gesture will mean a lot to the bereaved family.

Your Budget

Sympathy flowers can be costly; set a budget and stick to it. Don’t forget to factor in delivery charges when calculating the cost.

Is It a Memorial Service or a  Celebration of Life?


When choosing sympathy flowers, know whether the funeral service is a memorial or a celebration of life. A memorial service is a more somber occasion, while a celebration of life is more upbeat. The memorial service may be more religious, while the celebration of life is more secular. The tone of the service will guide you in choosing an appropriate flower arrangement.

What Is the Appropriate Time to Send Sympathy Flowers?

The appropriate time to send sympathy flowers is as soon as you hear about the death. It’s best to send the arrangement to the funeral home, church, or synagogue so that it arrives before the service. 

When you have a deeper relationship with the bereaved family, send a second arrangement to their home after the funeral. This will let them know that you’re thinking of them and will be there in the days and weeks ahead.

Sympathy Flowers are a Thoughtful Gesture

Sympathy flowers are a thoughtful way to express your condolences and support the bereaved family. They show you care, are there for them, and will never forget their loved ones.

The most important consideration is your relationship with the deceased.  However, don’t worry if you are confused. Florists and funeral directors are always available to help you choose the right arrangement.

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