Funerals without flowers are unimaginable. They have always been interlinked, across most cultures around the world. The practice of leaving flowers at graves may have started as a defiant gesture of life against the decay and putrefaction of the body after death. Then they gradually became offerings of respect and love for the dead.

Flowers are also sent to the living, who are grieving their loss. It is a way for friends and well-wishers to extend sympathy towards the living. Sending flowers to the bereaved can add value to funeral rituals. They dignify death and create a sense of a supportive community.

Each flower has an abstract meaning according to tradition. The type that you choose to use in your bouquet may have a special meaning you don’t know about.

How can you express yourself with flowers?

Chrysanthemums: In many parts of the world, people express truth and honesty with white chrysanthemums in their bouquets. Single stalks of the flower can lend a dignified and fresh air to a funeral. They come in a variety of colors as well, from yellow and tan to pink and burgundy. You can use them in wreathes and posies as a base.

Carnations: Red carnations are popular choices to lend a bold shock of color to funeral bouquets. They last long as well. White carnations symbolize truth, whereas the intensely-colored red ones stand for passion.

Roses: Roses are often used as a spray all along the length of the coffin. Red roses are used the most, though white and pink stand out. The red blossoms mean passion, yellow signifies love and white reflects innocence.

Iris: These blue blossoms symbolize hope and faithfulness. They are available throughout the year and hence are very popular choices as funeral flowers.

Lillies: These traditional flowers have many varieties of blossom shapes and colors. White trumpet-headed lilies are best when tied in a sheaf. Asiatic lilies that may be yellow, orange or pink in color, and with tiny flower heads, are used often in sprays. Oriental lilies have petals that open and curl out fully and are very important as funeral flowers.

Calla lillies: Trumpet-headed calla lilies can be expensive, but their vibrant colors and elegant shapes make them very attractive in sympathy bouquets.

These are some of the traditionally used funeral flowers. Lehigh Valley nurseries and florists also stock exotic seasonal flowers that can be used for unique bouquets to express special feelings.