What makes a good sympathy bouquet?

Inspired by real life, but not by any need to purchase such a bouquet. Rather, I was at the grocery store buying stuff, and the guy behind me had a bouquet that he was buying as a sympathy bouquet, but was concerned that it might be better for other purposes.

The cashier and I said it was fine–mixed flowers, at least one lily, etc. But then, what else do you say?

So I thought I’d ask you–what kind of flowers would you associate with sympathy bouquets or, alternatively, what kind of flowers would strike you as just plain inappropriate for use as a sympathy bouquet?

Possibly, coming from a grocery store is inappropriate. It wouldn’t bother me to recieve such a bouquet, but I have always bought funeral arrangements from professional florists. I also usually let them chose the details: I have rotten taste and they tend to know what’s appropriate.

I probably would personally steer away from bright colors and/or informal blooms and/or quick dying blooms – the kind of thing you find in a mixed spring bouquet. As it happens, those are usually the sort of bouquets you find at the grocery store, so that wouldn’t be my personal go-to choice.

I associate funeral flowers with lilies, carnations, and roses, though of course none of those are exclusively or primarily funeral flowers. And muted colors: Purple and white, maybe yellow and green, not a lot of pink and red. Blush colors, not popping colors. For example, daisies are cheap, brightly colored, informal, and quick-dying, so I wouldn’t get daisies.

If a person were getting flowers, I don’t think it’s necessary to get a “funeral” arrangement, just a nice bunch of flowers that reflects the occasion: something not brightly colored, not super cheap, and with hardy blooms that won’t die right away. More important IMO is the sincere note of sympathy that should accompany them.

ETA: And I would always give flowers in an arrangement or a vase, not loose flowers like you buy at the grocery store, to spare the bereaved from having to deal with loose flowers.

I have to admit, my experience with funeral flowers is pretty much limited to what I saw at my grandmother’s funeral in September. All flowers there were purchased from one or the other of the two florists in town and delivered to the funeral home (well, except that one bouquet that was delivered to grandma’s apartment). Then again, most of the people sending flowers were at a significant geographical distance, so hand-delivering would not have been practical–or possible.

And I’m not real experienced with funerals in general, and would probably not have thought about hand-delivering flowers.

Now, I don’t know anything about the guy at the grocery store except that he was buying a sympathy bouquet at 7:30 at night, so I suspect finding a florist that was open might have been a challenge. (And somehow, telling a guy he shouldn’t be buying grocery store flowers as a sympathy bouquet just feels rude–especially if the flowers themselves aren’t horribly inappropriate, but just not the best choice. I do respect the comment that an arrangement in a container (basket/vase) is better than loose flowers in the situation).

But I appreciate the answers you (Manda Jo and Jodi) have given.