Express Your Sympathy with These 4 Creative and Affordable Alternatives to Funeral Flowers


By Emma Castleberry

Flowers are a very popular sympathy gift, and for a good reason: flowers are beautiful, elegant, and they imbue a sense of calm with their pleasant fragrance. While flowers are often a perfectly acceptable way to express your compassion during someone’s time of grief, they can be overwhelming for the family. Sometimes grieving families are overloaded with more flowers, far more than they can display at the funeral or memorial service. Also, flower arrangements can get expensive. Here are some creative and affordable options to send to grieving families in lieu of the traditional flower arrangement.

1. Potted Plants

While an arrangement of cut flowers in a vase will eventually die, a potted plant or tree is a living thing that can represent hope and growth in a time of struggle. Consider the family’s circumstances when purchasing a tree or plant as a sympathy gift: do they live in an apartment with a sunny spot for a small plant? Perhaps you could give them an easy house plant like a ficus or fern. Do they have a yard where a large tree could be transplanted? A larger gift of a potted, young oak or maple might be perfect. Succulents also make beautiful, easy-to-care for gifts and they come in all shapes and sizes.

You can even personalize this gift by placing a small stone with the deceased’s name or initials beneath the plant.

2. Photos

It’s very possible, depending on how close you were with the deceased, that you have a selection of photos of the person that the family has never seen. These new images can be extremely heartwarming in a time of grief and it’s easier than ever to create photo books and albums directly from your phone, where most of us carry our photos.

The app Mosaic allows you to print a 7 inch by 7 inch softcover photo book with 20 photos. Prices start at $25. Social Print Studio has a similar deal with a larger book and a few more photos. For about $17, Artifact Uprisingwill print a 5.5 inch booklet with up to 40 photos chosen from you phone album or Instagram account.

3. A Gift of Relaxation

Losing a family member is a stressful time. Between funeral planning and general grief, it can be hard to find a moment to breath and process sadness. One of the most productive ways to express your sympathy to a grieving family or family member is with a gift of self-care. This could come in a lot of forms: a gift certificate to a salon for a massage, some nice bath items, dinner at a nice restaurant. Another popular option is to hire a house cleaning or lawn care service, as these are things that often fall to the wayside while planning a funeral.

4. Charity Donation

One of the most popular “in lieu of flowers” options is a donation to a charity that was meaningful to the deceased. Perhaps an organization that the person volunteered for or a cause they cared about deeply. If the person was lost to cancer or another disease, you could send a donation to an organization that supports research in the field.

Above All, Be Helpful

Always check for an “In lieu of flowers” option. Sometimes these will be specified on the memorial announcement, in the obituary, or on the funeral home’s website. Check with the funeral director if you don’t want to ask the family directly.

Not all of these alternatives will be a good fit for every grieving family. Some people might not enjoy a visit to the salon or want to deal with taking care of a potted plant. Whatever you choose to do, be sure it’s going to be a helpful gift instead of a hindrance. If you aren’t sure, check with the family or those close to them and find out what they really need.

Contact Us

6051 East Seven Mile Road,
Detroit, MI
(East of Mound Road)

Direct Line: 313-893-1880
Fax: 313-891-1758

Hutchison Funeral Home

6051 East Seven Mile Road,

Detroit, MI 48234

Phone. 313-893-1880