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In Lieu of Flowers?

Though death is the natural consequence of living; it’s never easy to endure the loss of a loved one. Still, one of the most appropriate and appreciated ways to express sympathy and compassion, as well as respect for the deceased, is by sending flowers.

Flowers At A Funeral – An Ancient Tradition

Sympathy Wreath On EaselFlowers have a long association with the funerary practices of humans, beginning in pre-history. In fact, the archeological record shows evidence of flowers being buried with the remains of Neanderthal men. Ancient civilizations across Europe and the Middle East also burned, buried or entombed flowers with their dead. With their innate processes of development… from infant seed, to youthful sprout, to fully blossomed adult, to withering petals, and culminating in the ripening pods or fruits which bear within them the promise of life renewed… Flowers are an elegant metaphor for the ongoing cycle of life itself, and a symbol of immortality; something which even cavemen understood.

(History lesson: Read more about the ancient traditions of African funerals)

The Fleeting, Essential Beauty of Sympathy Flowers

Humans and flowers are both products of nature, testaments to the mystery of being. With their essential but fleeting beauty, flowers remind us of our own existence and the temporal quality of our human lives. We cherish them all the more because they are so transient, like the spirits of those who have passed on before us.

  • Flowers bring comfort to the living as they commemorate the lives of the deceased.
  • Flowers provide a beautiful and thoughtful distraction from the grief of survivors.
  • Flowers express gratitude for life and for the privilege of knowing the departed.

Sympathy designs (flowers sent for a funeral) ought to be as special and unique as the life of the person they memorialize. To suggest that flowers are trivial or unimportant to the grieving process is to deny the truth of their message: life always goes on.

In Lieu Of

There has been a trend in recent years to place the words “please omit” or “in lieu of” into an obituary as pertaining to flowers, as if they were worthless or unwanted. The same sentiment would never be expressed with respect to the dead. And while a contribution to charity in the name of the deceased is always a fitting tribute, the value and importance of flowers sent in sympathy can never be understated. Consult your local florist to help you deliver a comforting message of condolence and concern.

Flowers are life exemplified.


  1. Silas Knight says:

    I had no idea that flowers at funerals was such an ancient tradition. I have always thought it is a good idea to have beautiful flowers at a funeral, and that just solidifies my opinion. However, I am not sure what flowers are best at a funeral, what do you think?

  2. Silas,

    There are many options for funeral flowers. Here is a great article with information about creative funeral flowers. Hopefully this helps!

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