How to Choose the Right Sympathy Arrangement

Sending flowers is a kind and thoughtful way of expressing sympathy to someone who has lost a loved one. Arrangements vary from cut flowers, to free-standing wreaths, to potted plants. Flowers and wreaths are typically delivered to the funeral or memorial service then forwarded to the family home afterward.

When choosing what to send, consider your relationship to the deceased and the survivors. If you knew the deceased on a casual basis or don’t know the family well, consider sending a simple arrangement of cut flowers. Irises and lilies have long been common symbols for death and bereavement in Western Culture, so they are a very safe choice for all occasions. You might also choose a free-standing display for the funeral or memorial service.

If you know the survivors well, you should consider their personal preferences. If they have expressed a love of floral scents, consider a bouquet including gardenias or white roses. Sticking to white is a safe bet, but if you are really close to the family, you can choose something you just ‘know they’ll love.’ If they have stated a penchant for a sunflowers or something bright and cheery, go ahead and send them. If you go this route, it would be a good idea to include a note that you hope the flowers ‘bring them joy in a time of sorrow.’ Consider a theme for those you knew via a particular hobby or activity such as poppies and a flag for someone in the military.

Peruse your favorite florist’s website for ideas. There are a large variety of pre-made options out there, and one might just stand out as ‘just the right thing’ to send. The online sites are intermediaries to a local florist that offer ‘standard’ bouquets. The on-line images are usually pretty close to what is eventually delivered, but they don’t always match up 100%. Better yet, pick up the phone and call your florist, or one in the area you are sending the flowers, and ask them for advice. They know what is currently available and appreciate being consulted as professionals. You can often get better service with a phone call.

For a longer-lasting gift, you might consider sending a potted plant or mini-garden to the home instead of flowers to the service. Peace plants have an elegant white long-lasting flower and are very easy to take care of. Stay away from orchids and finicky plants unless you know the recipient has a green thumb.