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How to choose the right flowers for a Funeral

If there is one thing that’s true with all funeral services, it’s incredibly difficult to know what to say when it comes to personal loss. Do you offer words of sympathy? Do you try to relate to the person’s grief? Sometimes it’s just hard to find the right words.

Often the best way for families and family members to express their sympathy and honour their loved one is through a thoughtful & beautiful flower arrangement. In many ways, flowers have become a simple, yet meaningful gift that people can share to lend their support and take on some of the burden of their loved one’s grief.

Before you tell the florist to “put something nice together” – take a moment to learn what your flowers might actually be saying.

To help you with this choice, we’re taking a look at the meaning behind the flowers we send. So if you or your family members are like me and have a hard time putting their sympathy into words, flowers and gifts make the perfect visual expression of your feelings and your sympathy.

What’s the Meaning behind the flowers we send?

The colour and type of flowers that you choose to send to someone can express very particular sentiments. For example, did you know that you should never send white camellias to someone you are dating? (They are often used to express love for a parent or a child.) Instead, you should opt for red carnations, which represent strong feelings of yearning and true love.

Because the passing of a family member or loved is a very emotional and confusing time, it’s important to understand the appropriate flower etiquette, so as not to upset or offend with your choices. So the team at Southern Cross Funeral (Sydney) have provided the meanings behind the most common types and colours of funeral flowers.


Roses, because of their strong messages and beauty, are often one of the most popular flowers used in funeral arrangements. One single rose that is found in a funeral bouquet is said to express enduring love for the deceased.

  • White roses – Evoke purity, reverence, innocence and humility. Perfect for expressing sympathy, no matter what the relationship.
  • Yellow roses – Symbolises strong ties and compassion. They are often given by friends of the deceased.
  • Pink roses – Signify elegance, love, admiration and grace. This colour rose is typically used for women and children, due to its lightness in both colour and meaning.
  • Red roses – Convey love, courage and respect. They are typically used by people who had an intimate, loving relationship with the deceased. (Dark red roses also denote sorrow and grief.)
  • Purple roses – Display dignity, success and respect. (Purple is also considered the colour of royalty) This is a common colour to use throughout a grandparent’s funeral, as a way to honour their life and legacy.


The carnation is a great symbolic choice of flower for any funeral arrangement, as it is known for representing the bonds of affection.

  • White carnations – Display faithfulness, innocence and purity. An appropriate choice for the funeral of a child.
  • Red carnations – Similar to red roses, red carnations help to express strong, deep feelings of true love and yearning. An appropriate flower for a wife, husband or lover.
  • Pink carnations – Convey remembrance and gratitude. This type of flower is often used to symbolise a mother’s or grandmother’s enduring love.


The general meaning behind most tulips is pure and simple – perfect love. An appropriate flower for anyone who was very close to the deceased or their loved ones.

  • White tulips – Often used to send a message of forgiveness, or to show that someone is worthy.
  • Red tulips – Strongly associated with true love in its strongest sense. An appropriate flower for a wife or husband to gift to their spouse, or a parent to gift to a child.
  • Yellow tulips – A common representation for cheerful thoughts and sunshine. Perfect for a funeral service that wants to focus on celebrating a life lived and the happy moments of a person’s life.


Another popular type of flower used in funeral arrangements and lilies are often considered the go-to funeral flower and there’s significant meaning behind this strongly aromatic blossom. Lilies suggest that the soul of the deceased has returned to a peaceful state of innocence.

  • White lilies – Convey purity and innocence. (This type of flower appears at funerals more than any other variety.) A white lily is usually an apt choice for someone who had lived a short life.
  • Oriental lilies – Symbolise eternal life. Perfect for a religious funeral service that is commemorating the life lived.
  • Stargazer lilies – Represent sympathy and love. A perfect option when choosing to send flowers to the immediate family of the deceased.

Matt’s Final Thought

I’ve seen first-hand the impact that a simple gestures, such as a flowers, can make to a grieving family – especially when words don’t seem to be enough. Which is why it’s important to understand the tradition and meaning of flowers, to ensure they convey the intended message and sentiment.

With that in mind, I hope you found this information helpful and encourage you to share it with family and friends to help guide them in choosing the flowers that best conveys their relationship and sympathy with the deceased.

And if you need help preparing for an upcoming funeral service in Sydney, Central Coast or Wollongong or just have some questions, it would be our privilege to talk through your needs.

So please don’t hesitate to call me, Matt and the helpful team at Southern Cross Funerals Sydney at any time on 02 9529 6644 or contact us here.

Best Wishes