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How to Express Sympathy with Flowers & Gifts

When it comes to offering condolences, many people aren't sure what to do. Here's how to help ensure that your gesture is appropriate and appreciated.


  • Step 1: Consider the relationship Consider your relationship to the deceased, or the deceased's family. It's customary for friends and coworkers to send standing sprays or standing baskets for display at the service; or flowers, plants, or gourmet food baskets to the grieving family's home.
  • TIP: If the family requests charitable donations "in lieu of flowers," by all means make a donation. But you can send flowers and gifts, too.
  • Step 2: Pitch in If the mourner is a colleague, consider pitching in with other coworkers on one large arrangement for the service, or send a food basket to family's home. If possible, include everyone's name on the card.
  • Step 3: Follow proper etiquette Check the funeral home for guidance before placing your order. Also make sure what you have in mind fits with the mourner's religious and cultural traditions. Check out for more information.
  • TIP: Most funeral homes don't accept food baskets.
  • Step 4: Make it personal Personalize your arrangement by using the deceased's favorite flower or color. Or custom-design an arrangement that reflects the person's interest with the help of a floral designer.
  • TIP: Due to time constraints, be aware that floral substitutions occasionally may be made to ensure top quality.
  • Step 5: Write an appropriate message Include an appropriate message. It can be difficult to find the right words, but has dedicated sympathy professionals who can help you find the right phrase. Or, go online to select from a list of suggested sentiments.
  • Step 6: Follow up with flowers After the funeral, the next few months after a loss can be the hardest. For people dealing with a loved one’s death, receiving flowers or a card after the condolences stop coming can be wonderfully comforting.

You Will Need

  • Funeral service details
  • A personal touch
  • An appropriate message

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