Which Flowers Are Appropriate for Expressing Sympathy?
Sending the Right Message
The short answer is: any flowers can be appropriate for expressing sympathy. It’s the thought that counts. Still, a few generally used for this purpose include carnations, chrysanthemums, lilies, orchids, roses, daffodils, forget-me-nots, gladioli, and others.
The right ones are a bit like wardrobe choices for an event. If you come to a funeral wearing loud, expressive colors, that shows poor taste. Unless the deceased expressly requested funeral attendees dress festively, it’s a bad move. Flowers are similar.
Still, it’s hard to tell which flowers are going to be a bad choice, because, for most people, floral distinctions aren’t part of their regular understanding. Here we’ll go over a few different floral options to help you make the best choices as regards sympathy flower etiquette.
Keep in mind, not all situations of sympathy are something as intense as a funeral. The loss of a job or a pet can be a good reason to give someone sympathy flowers. If a person takes ill and has to spend a week or two out of their regular routine, that’s also a good opportunity to send sympathy flowers. Each situation differs.
Match Flowers to the Situation
If someone is feeling down, any old bouquet will do. If someone has lost a lover or a family member or a friend, bright bouquets could send exactly the wrong message. Coloration is a key indicator of what’s best.
Red indicates true, eternal love. White is for purity or remembrance. Yellow is the warmth of friendship. Pink is archetypal of beauty and femininity. Purple represents loyalty and reverence. This handy link has a more in-depth breakdown.
So if you had a friend in the armed services who passed away, a bouquet of pink flowers isn’t in the best taste. You’d do better with red, white, and purple flowers. You can sub the purple out for blue in this instance owing to the patriotic connotation.
Assure You Don’t Bring Too Many or Too Few
One flower for a lifelong friend or a close family member is something others might perceive as insulting. Similarly, a massive bouquet of several hundred expensive roses for someone you only met once is also out of balance. Unless you’re so rich a few thousand dollars is like pocket change, you want to be more strategic.
Be Discreet In the Presentation
When someone is grieving, they need comfort, they need support, and they need respect. Condolence or sympathy flowers aren’t about what you’re bringing to the table. They’re about helping someone by showing your honor and respect for either the person they lost or the situation they’re going through.
Again, it can be hard to get the balance right here. What you’ll want to do is put yourself in the shoes of the person for whom you’re showing sympathy. In that situation, would you want to talk to someone? Or would you rather be left alone? Now, this can be hard, because some people are naturally more “gregarious”, and more “outgoing” than others. They would always talk.
You need to factor in the personality traits of the person you’re trying to help. If they’re a private, introverted person, you might just leave the sympathy flowers where they’ll find them. Perhaps you can’t make the funeral, but you can leave a small bouquet and a note on their desk. Maybe you walk up, present them the flowers, give them a hug, and walk off.
Conversely, if they’re a verbose individual given to social interaction, maybe you take them out to lunch, brunch, or coffee, and present flowers there. Maybe you give them a visit at their home, or take it a step further and spend the weekend with them to provide comfort. It depends on your relationship with the individual in question and your personality.
Be Aware of Any Allergies
Some people simply look at flowers and start sneezing. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but if you know somebody like that, get them imitation flowers made of plastic. More realistically, if someone has an allergy, it will be to a specific flower, so be sure you know what that flower is. Here is a list of flowers known for causing allergic reactions.
Comforting Those in Times of Trouble
Life wouldn’t be very interesting if all experiences were the same all the time. Positive or negative, a bland existence isn’t something anyone really wants. There are ups and downs. This means elation, and it means depression. It also means if you’re not going through the hard times, you can help those in pain.
Flowers are a great way to provide comfort. Just know whether the person you’re trying to comfort has allergies, be discreet in a presentation to match the situation, bring the right amount, and match flowers to whatever inspired you to buy them.