Red rose at cemetery
Red rose at cemetery

As funeral etiquette has developed, it has assigned meanings to specific flowers the grieving present at visitations and funerals. However, not all funeral flowers convey mourning. Depending on their color, they might suggest love, friendship, maternal affection, hope for renewed life and even determination to keep living in the face of death.

Pink and Red Flowers

Assortment of pink and red flowers
Assortment of pink and red flowers

Orchids of all colors symbolize enduring love, but pink orchids carry an additional meaning of sympathy toward the friends and relations of the deceased. Chrysanthemums are used almost exclusively at funerals in certain European countries, and red chrysanthemums signify profound love for the departed. Pink carnations, because some believe they originated from the tears shed by the Virgin Mary as she watched her son die, represent the love of mothers for their children.

White Flowers

Arrangement of white flowers
Arrangement of white flowers

In the language of flowers, the white camellia symbolizes a loveliness that has attained perfection, and may be used by parents to express sorrow over the loss of a child. White chrysanthemums signify grief in China, Korea and Japan, although in the U.S. and other Western countries, they carry a more positive meaning. White lilies, which suggest the hope of resurrection, are perhaps the most commonly given white funeral flower.

Bright Colors

Brightly-colored flower arrangement
Brightly-colored flower arrangement

Many people mistakenly believe brightly colored flowers are inappropriate for funerals because they clash with the somber and mournful tone expected of attendants. On the contrary, bright colors suggest hope and the confidence mourners will press on even in the face of death. For example, daffodils may be given in funerals that occur during the spring or at the funeral of a child, while funeral flower arrangements often incorporate green chrysanthemums.

The Colors of Roses

Beautiful roses in vase
Beautiful roses in vase

Several varieties of roses traditionally are given at funerals but what they signify depends on their color. While purple or black roses may be used to express grief, the giving of red roses signifies passionate and enduring love, typically between two people who were romantically linked. Yellow roses, on the other hand, suggest the platonic devotion of friendship, while pink roses evoke gratitude toward the departed. White roses, like white lilies, portray innocence.