Flowers that symbolize death in Different Cultures. Sympathy flowers are a great way to show support to a family that is grieving the loss of a loved one. As Dr. Alan Wolfelt tells us, symbols such as flowers convey love, facilitate

expression, provide meaning, and communicate emotions that words fail to capture.

Funeral flowers are symbolic of certain emotions, and while the general message of a sympathy flower will be

understood in any context, individual types of flowers can communicate slightly different meanings. For this reason,

we’ve decided to explore the meanings of seven of the most popular types of funeral flowers.

Lily: This lovely flower usually blooms in summer, and is often interpreted as a symbol of renewal and rebirth.  The

lily can be a powerful symbol of the spirit of a loved one that offers hope and encouragement to a grieving family.

The idea of rebirth and renewal is particularly applicable to faith-based services. The white color of the lily also

carries associations with purity and youth, making it a good choice for the funeral of someone who has died young.


This enormously popular flower has very different meanings associated with different colors. Like the lily,

white roses tend to represent purity and innocence. Peach roses represent sincerity and gratitude and can be given

to a family whose loved one has blessed your life. Pink roses also indicate gratitude. The yellow rose is a symbol of

friendship that expresses your support. All of these colors of roses make great sympathy gifts for a grieving family.


The carnation is a symbol of love. Some people believe that the word “carnation” came from

“incarnation,” the Latin word that refers to God in the flesh. With this in mind, a carnation could be given as a gift to a

family to honor a life that reflected the spirit of Christ. More generally, it can be used to express love for the family or

for the loved one who has passed. And since the carnation is the traditional flower of Mother’s Day, it can be a great

choice to honor the life of a person who was a great mother to her children.

Hyacinth|What flower symbolizes love and death?|

The purple hyacinth is a popular symbol of sorrow and regret. For a funeral setting, this expression is

certainly appropriate. Sometimes, a simple acknowledgment of the family’s grief is enough. Instead of attempting to

comfort the family with clichés such as “Keep your head up,” and “God wouldn’t give you anything more than you

can bear,” allow yourself to accept the reality of their grief, and communicate your sympathy. Let them know that you

are aware of their suffering and that you care. The purple hyacinth can communicate the pain that you feel upon

hearing of their loss, and this simple sentiment is often just what the family needs.

Chrysanthemum|What flowers represent death and rebirth?|

In  America. this gorgeous flower has many meanings, but it is often used as an expression of

support or encouragement to “get well soon.” In many countries in Europe, the chrysanthemum is placed on

graves and viewed as a symbol of death. Fusing the more positive American associations with the European

emphasis on mourning, we find a perfect balance that applies to an end-of-life ceremony. A symbol of death and

mourning, but also support and encouragement, the gift of the chrysanthemum is well-suited to a funeral setting.

Gladiolus|Which flower signifies death?|

The gladiolus is a beautiful representation of strength and character. By giving a grieving family this

flower, you essentially remind them what wonderful people they are and encourage them to persevere on their grief

journey. As a sympathy gift, the gladiolus does not ignore the pain of loss, and it effectively communicates your

compassion in a difficult time.

one, which motivates them as they enter into a difficult chapter of their lives.


The meaning of this flower shouldn’t be too difficult to decipher. An emblem of remembrance, the

memories. We tend to shy away from painful emotions, and for this reason, we often avoid the topic of a loved one’s

death intending to spare the family additional discomfort. We stay silent because we don’t want to remind

the family of the loss of their loved one. While this approach is well-intended, it’s often unhelpful. Tell stories, share

memories, and talk about the positive attributes of the loved one. Remind the family that their loved one has

impacted the lives of others. As Dr. Alan Wolfelt says, we have to go backward before we can go forward, and

remembering is a great way to take a healthy step back.