Should I Send Flowers to Someone Who Is Bereaved?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
It's usually acceptable to send flowers to someone who is bereaved, unless he or she has specifically asked people not to do so.
It's usually acceptable to send flowers to someone who is bereaved, unless he or she has specifically asked people not to do so.

It is rarely considered poor etiquette to send flowers to those who have recently lost loved ones, but there are some circumstances under which a different gesture may be more appropriate. Many people send flowers directly to a funeral home for display during the actual calling hours and funeral service, but others may choose to send flowers to the family's home several days later. Many of these flower arrangements are placed on the grave site as a final remembrance of the deceased, while live plants may be kept in the family's home for a time.

Many funeral flower arrangements are placed on the grave site in remembrance of the deceased.
Many funeral flower arrangements are placed on the grave site in remembrance of the deceased.

Before you order flowers for a grieving co-worker or friend, however, you may want to inquire about the family's expressed wishes. A number of families suggest donations to a favored charitable organization should be made in lieu of flowers. The specific details of such a request are generally included as part of the funeral announcement placed in a local newspaper. This does not mean, however, that you cannot send flowers as a gift separate from the requested charitable donation.

Many people send flowers and a short note to people who are grieving from a loss.
Many people send flowers and a short note to people who are grieving from a loss.

The days following the loss of a loved one are often a blur for the grieving family members, who must cope with a private loss while also handling a very public display of support from outsiders. When friends, distant relatives and co-workers all give flowers or prepare food, the attention can become overwhelming. There are some bereavement experts who suggest that outsiders should not send flowers as an automatic response, because some families are not emotionally equipped to care for live plants during a difficult time. The death of the cut flower arrangements may become yet another painful reminder of the fragility of life.

Flowers might be a good reminder of sympathy from people unable to attend a funeral.
Flowers might be a good reminder of sympathy from people unable to attend a funeral.

If you still want to give flowers to someone mourning the loss of a loved one, you may want to wait until enough time has passed for the gesture to have some significance. A bright flower arrangement filled with the deceased's favorite blooms could be well-received during a painful first milestone, whether it's a birthday, holiday or anniversary. You may also want to send flowers directly to the grave site on occasions when the family may gather together in remembrance.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

Reminiscence

@AnswerMan, I'm noticing more and more requests from families to send donations to a specified charity in lieu of flowers. I'll still see flower arrangements at the funeral home, but they are primarily from the kind of groups you mentioned. I'd hate to see the tradition of sending flowers to a grieving family disappear completely, but it does look as if other suggestions are becoming increasingly popular.

AnswerMan

Sending flowers to the funeral home is never a bad idea, but I've noticed lately that many of the arrangements are from groups, not from individuals. It might be more significant to send a larger floral arrangement in the name of a civic group or co-workers or other organizations that had an association with the deceased. Signing the guestbook or sending a condolence card might be a more personal way for an individual to express his or her sympathies to the family.

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    • It's usually acceptable to send flowers to someone who is bereaved, unless he or she has specifically asked people not to do so.
      It's usually acceptable to send flowers to someone who is bereaved, unless he or she has specifically asked people not to do so.
    • Many funeral flower arrangements are placed on the grave site in remembrance of the deceased.
      Many funeral flower arrangements are placed on the grave site in remembrance of the deceased.
    • Many people send flowers and a short note to people who are grieving from a loss.
      Many people send flowers and a short note to people who are grieving from a loss.
    • Flowers might be a good reminder of sympathy from people unable to attend a funeral.
      Flowers might be a good reminder of sympathy from people unable to attend a funeral.
    • Not all bereaved individuals are emotionally equipped to care for flowers.
      Not all bereaved individuals are emotionally equipped to care for flowers.
    • It's a nice idea to leave flowers on the grave of someone who has recently passed.
      It's a nice idea to leave flowers on the grave of someone who has recently passed.