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John Daly: Funeral Flower Etiquette Varies by Faith

Funerals are a difficult time for family, loved ones and friends. To complicate matters, not all religions and cultures have the same practices when it comes to receiving flowers. Even though you might be trying to express sympathy by sending them, they aren’t always appropriate for every culture.

The first step for anyone planning to send flowers is to know the culture, religion and practices of the deceased’s family. Whether to deliver flowers in person or send to the family home or send them to the service, burial or wake depends upon religious or cultural practices.

Jason Ropchan, founder and CEO of Your Tribute, an online resource for funeral and grief information and products, suggests the following guidelines.

Roman Catholic Funeral

Flowers are acceptable during funeral wakes and services of Roman Catholics. The flowers can be sent to the church, funeral home, family’s residence, or to the wake. An individual also can send donations to the family of the deceased if they have requested them in lieu of flowers.

Protestant Funeral

A Protestant funeral ceremony celebrates the deceased person’s life and highlights the afterlife. Flowers are appreciated by the family and can be sent to their home or sent to the funeral home or church. The family may also request that donations be made to a charity they have selected.

Mormon Funeral

During a Mormon funeral, flowers are acceptable, but an individual is advised not to send flower arrangements in the shape of a cross. Crosses and crucifixes are not permitted because they believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. It is advised to offer condolences and provide flowers before or after the funeral.

Jewish Funeral

Funeral flowers are not appropriate in Jewish traditions. Individuals are highly encouraged to send donations. A rabbi performs the funeral service and the deceased is buried right after his death. The family sits in mourning for seven days, and fruit and food baskets are taken to the home.

Buddhist Funeral

A Buddhist family will accept flowers, but you should never send red flowers. White flowers are the traditional Buddhist flower color and are preferred. Also, it is not appropriate to send the family food. A donation may be made if the family has selected a charity.

Muslim Funeral

Whether to send flowers to a Muslim family depends on their beliefs. Some people believe that the Islamic emphasis on simplicity makes sending flowers inappropriate. However, some people will say that sending a simple flower arrangement is acceptable. When in doubt, ask a family spokesperson or family member what is advised.

Hindu Funeral

A Hindu funeral takes place within 24 hours of death. Mourners should not bring anything to the funeral and not exchange greeting with other guests. A ceremony is held 10 days after the death where fruit should be brought for the family, but flowers are still not appropriate.

According to Ropchan, the suggestions he provides are the “typical procedure” for giving flowers. But, the family may have different preferences.

We’ve probably all been in a quandary about funeral flower etiquette at one time or another. The first place to always look is the obituary. Families will sometimes include information on whether they prefer flowers, memorial gifts or donations to a charity.

If the obituary doesn’t provide the information, always ask a relative or close family friend.

Finally, if you still don’t have an answer, send the family a sympathy card and handwrite your condolences for their loss on it.

[John Daly’​s note: Your Tribute CEO Jason Ropchan has more than 15 years of experience in the funeral industry developing and marketing funeral technology. He has worked with thousands of funeral homes worldwide to help them provide online memorials and video tributes to their families. Click here for more information about Your Tribute.]

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the keys to life skills success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or click here to buy his book. John’s new book, 74 Key Life Skills for a Happy, Successful Life, is currently available in digital format on Amazon. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook and follow John on Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have a question about business or social etiquette? Ask John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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