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Top 5 Flowers That Symbolize Grief

Top 5 Flowers That Symbolize Grief

Grief is one of the most devastating emotions to experience as a human being, whether you are grieving over the loss of a family pet or the loss of a parent.

When you experience grief, it can oftentimes feel as if there is no way out or no way back to hope and optimism.

Flowers that symbolize grief have done so due to their use throughout history, the locations in which they grow, as well as the seasons in which they are most commonly found.

Flowers that symbolize grief are: Chrysanthemum (Mum), Forget Me Not (Myosotis), Hyacinths Hyacinthus), Violet (Viola), and the Sword Lily.

1. Chrysanthemum (Mum)

Chrysanthemum flowers.
Image Courtesy:

Although in many places around the world, the Chrysanthemum, or the mum flower, is used as a token of friendship, fidelity, and cheerfulness, it can also symbolize sadness, loss, grief, and death.

Depending on the culture you are in and where you are, presenting a Chrysanthemum can take on entirely different meanings given the context of your particular situation.

The Chrysanthemum is derived from two Greek words: chrysos and anthemon. These words can be translated to “gold flower” when combined.

The Chrysanthemum flower itself belongs to the Asteraceae plant family, the same family to which the sunflower belongs.

Mums are also a genus of 40 species in total, providing plenty of variety when it comes to choosing the right Chrysanthemum for any occasion.

While in some regions around the world, such as in Australia, gifting the Chrysanthemum on Mother’s Day is considered standard, as it is the country’s official flower for Mother’s Day.

However, Japan considers white Chrysanthemum flowers to represent funerals and grieving. Context and cultural indicators should always be considered when choosing a flower for a particular reason or emotion.

2. Forget Me Not (Myosotis)

Forget Me Not (Myosotis).
Forget Me Not (Myosotis)
hedera.baltica from Wrocław, PolandCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Forget Me Nots are small, tiny, yet bold flowers with five sepals and five petals on each flower. These Forget Me Nots, also known as Myosotis in the scientific community, has a genus of around 50 species and belongs to the Boraginaceae plant family.

Forget Me Nots are small and quaint, making perfect additions to just about any rock or flower garden. Most often, Myosotis flowers are found in blues and shades of violet, but also come in white and pink.

The genus name of Forget Me Nots, Myosotis, is derived from the Greek word Myosotis, which can be loosely translated to the “mouse’s ear”.

The Forget Me Not Flower is known for its association with funerals and deaths, as it is commonly referred to as a symbol of love, remembrance, and hope.

3. Hyacinths (Hyacinthus)

Hyacinths (Hyacinthus).
Hyacinths (Hyacinthus)
Alexandar Vujadinovic, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hyacinth, or Hyacinthus flower, belongs to the Asparagaceae family and has a limited three species in its genus.

It can be found native to both the Middle East as well as throughout the Mediterranean. Hyacinth flowers are extremely potent and attract insects anywhere they grow.

The flower was named after the Greek hero, Hyacinth, and symbolizes playfulness, competitiveness, and in some cases, rebirth and the arrival of the new spring.

However, for those who are seeking florals that also represent grief, the purple Hyacinth is known to represent regret, sadness, and deep sorrow.

Whether the flower is given as a consolation to someone who is grieving or if it is presented at a funeral, it is best to do so with purple Hyacinths, as other color variations of the flower take on entirely separate meanings.

4. Violet (Viola)

Violet (Viola).
Violet (Viola)
Image by liz west from flickr
(CC BY 2.0)

The violet is a classic flower that is found throughout many temperate climates in the Northern Hemisphere.

Due to its beautiful and vibrant appearance along with its heart-shaped leaves, the violet stands out as one of the most popular flowers to give, receive, and even plant in one’s own garden.

The violet, or Viola flower, is a genus of more than 500 species in total and belongs to the Violaceae family.

Violets come in a variety of colors and were often referred to as the “Herb of the Trinity” by many monks throughout the Middle Ages due to the three primary colors that violets often took on: purple, green, and yellow.

While violets can represent innocence, truth, faith, and spirituality, they can also take on the role of symbolizing remembrance and mysticism, depending on the culture or region you are in.

In Christianity, the violet flower also symbolizes the humility of the Virgin Mary, which is why the flower can be associated with remembrance, and in some instances, even grief.

5. Sword Lily

Sword Lily
Sword Lily
Peter Forster from Centobuchi, Italy, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Envisioning a lily might not drum up a visual of death, grief, and remembrance. However, the sword lily, or the Gladiolus, is a flower that can be used to convey sorry or grief in nearly any situation.

The sword lily, or the gladiolus, is a genus of more than 300 species in total and belongs to the Iridaceae plant family.

Most of the Sword Lily flowers today are native to various regions throughout Eurasia as well as in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

The Gladiolus genus name comes from the Latin word “gladiolus” itself, which is literally translated into “small sword”. This represents the shape of the sword lily’s leaves and the direction of its petals as they grow.

Going even further back in history, the sword lily’s genus name, Gladiolus, can be traced back to Ancient Greek, in which the flower was named “xiphium”.

In Ancient Greek, the word “xiphos” was known to represent the sword. The Gladiolus flower takes on many different meanings, from strength and character to honor and integrity.

It can also signify faithfulness and morality among men and women, depending on at which time in history the flower was presented and where it was cultivated.

However, it can also represent remembrance, sadness, sorry, and death, depending on religious cultures and surrounding beliefs in the region in which the flowers are given or presented.


Using flowers that symbolize grief can help you to plan and coordinate funerals or memorial events while also placing a bit of meaning behind the flowers that are used.

Flowers that symbolize grief can also help one to cope internally with a loss as one works through overcoming their feelings and emotions over time.

Header image courtesy: Ivan Radic, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons