Funeral Flower Etiquette by Religion: Should you send flowers?

Written by Office Manager, Claire Robertson:

Over the last couple of weeks, Gareth has been talking about religious and faith funerals. During my time with Coles, we have commissioned personalised funeral tributes on behalf of religious families in the shape of: Crosses, Angels, Gates of Heaven, Open Books, Jesus Fish, Five Pointed Stars, Aum, Khanda, and Ik Onkar. And April is a good month for these types of arrangements as spray carnations, chrysanthemums, hydrangea and roses are all in season, and make some of the best floral tributes of this kind.However, today I thought it might be useful to talk about funeral flower etiquette by religion, which can be summarised as follows…


  • Roman Catholic – flowers are often used to decorate the casket for the vigil (wake) – either at the place of rest, church or burial ground. ‘Inside pieces’ such as corner clusters, sheaves, pillows or crosses can also be displayed should the family wish for the casket to be open. Sending flowers to the family’s home or funeral home is also appropriate where the family does not specify charity donations.


  • Anglican/Protestant – oftentimes a donation to charity is preferred in lieu of flowers, but where appropriate you may wish to send floral gestures to the family’s residence or the funeral home where they will be displayed in the place of rest.


  • Mormon – As Mormon funeral services usually take place at a funeral home or by the graveside and are rarely held inside temples, giving flowers to the deceased’s family before or after the service is welcomed (just ensure that the arrangement is not in the shape of a cross or crucifix).


  • Jewish – flowers are not traditionally a feature of Jewish traditions, not least because burials take place quickly; instead attendees are encouraged to send donations to charity. It is also customary to take desserts, fruit and food baskets to the family home during Shiva (mourning).


  • Muslim – as Islamic faith focuses on simplicity, the appropriateness of sending flowers will very much depend on the family’s wishes and it is best to ask either the family or religious leader.


  • Buddhist – white flowers are a suitable gesture both before and after the service (which is usually conducted at the funeral home). Sending red flowers or food is deemed inappropriate according to Buddhist tradition.


  • Hindu – it is expected that funerals take place within 24 hours of death and that mourners arrive empty-handed. 10 days later another ceremony is held – and fruit, rather than flowers, is an appropriate gift at this post-funeral service.

If you have any doubts as to whether it’s appropriate to send flowers to a family in mourning that we’re taking care of, or whether you should take food or make a donation instead, Coles will liaise with the family or religious leader on your behalf – simply get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to help…