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Top 10 Flowers That Symbolize Loss

Top 10 Flowers That Symbolize Loss

Going through life will result in loss from time to time, which is entirely natural and expected.

However, grieving is not always easy, which is why there are some flowers that are often used to symbolize loss, grief, and sadness.

When you are familiar with flowers that symbolize loss and sadness, you can seek out a floral arrangement that is appropriate for any occasion, including funerals and those that are being hosted to remember a loss.

Flowers that symbolize loss are: White Lilies, Roses, Chrysanthemums, White Carnations, Orchids, Dianthus, Rafflesia, Red Spider Lily, Aconite/Wolfsbane and Dracula (Monkey Orchid).

1. White Lilies

White Lilies.
White Lilies
Image by Eleonora Sky from Pexels

Lilies, most commonly, white lilies, are some of the most symbolic flowers used for various purposes, such as grieving and saying goodbye after losing a loved one.

The white lily is one of the most popular flowers used on display during memorials and funerals, and has a rich history of ancient beliefs and superstitions attached to the flower itself.

Most often, the best choice of lily to represent grief, sympathy, and even sadness or loss is the white stargazer lily.

Because the lily typically stands for innocence, purity, and the sanctity of life, it is a suitable choice as the flower on display during dark and bleak times, such as during a funeral.

The Peace Lily, a lily that appears luscious and green with white petals, is another flowering plant that is appropriate for those who are seeking a flower that symbolizes grief and loss.

2. Roses

White Rose.
White Rose
Photo by Sarah Coates on Unsplash

When you think of a rose for the first time, you may think of a bright red rose that is commonly associated with a deep and unwavering romantic love.

However, did you know that in some instances, a dark crimson rose can also be an indication of grieving or dealing with a loss?

Not only can a crimson rose represent loss and grief, but a black rose may also be placed on display to showcase an individual’s feelings of emptiness or total grief.

While a black rose cannot be found in nature, it is not uncommon to have a black rose painted or dyed for a funeral procession or memorial, especially if the individual who has passed was particularly fond of roses in their everyday life.

A black rose can mean everything from loss and grief to jealousy and anger surrounding a sordid love affair.

While it is not always the best choice for a funeral, it may be a suitable selection if your loved one would have preferred black or crimson roses to remember them.

3. Chrysanthemums

Yellow Chrysanthemum.
Image Courtesy:

The chrysanthemum flower, also commonly referred to as the mum flower, has taken on many meanings and roles throughout society as well as throughout many cultures today.

Coming from the Asteraceae flower family, chrysanthemums are just one flower of more than 23,000 species in total, making the Asteraceae the largest flower family known to man today.

Throughout history, Chrysanthemums have been closely tied to death and grieving a loss (along with positivity and friendship), although they can also be a suitable gift to others, depending on the color of the Chrysanthemums you choose to lose.

After many wars, including following WWI, Chrysanthemums were placed along French soldiers’ graves as an homage to the soldiers’ sacrifice and their willingness to die for the freedom of their own countrymen.

Most often, a yellow chrysanthemum flower is used to represent loss and sorrow, although violet chrysanthemums can also represent well wishes, which may be suitable for a funeral procession.

4. White Carnations

White Carnation.
White Carnation
Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another flower that is extremely popular and well-known around the world is the classic carnation.

While most carnations can be used, given, and displayed for positive purposes and happy situations, it is important to note that most often throughout history, the white carnation was used as a representation of loss, death, grieving, and sympathy.

The white carnation is considered a deeply powerful symbol of respect and sadness, which is why these flowers are often seen on display during funerals as well as wakes and memorials alike.

White carnations, different from pink carnations, which also signify love and innocence, often represent purity and the preciousness of life, which may explain why so many use white carnations as a sign of their own grief.

5. Orchids

An orchid flower.
An orchid flower
Image Courtesy:

Another unique and one-of-a-kind flower is the orchid, which can be used to symbolize loss as well as the grief over losing a loved one.

The name “orchid” is actually derived from “orchis”, a Greek word that can essentially be translated into “testicles”, which resembles the shape of the orchid flow and its petals themselves.

The orchid flower can be presented as a gift when done so using various shades of pink and white orchids that are known for their positive energy and rich history.

The phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids are most often the two types of orchids that are appropriate to give as gifts.

However, symbolically, the orchid flower has been used as a symbol of fertility as well as used medicinally to help cure and assist those who are suffering.

Using white orchids after experiencing a loss is an ode to the individual’s life force, purity, and innocence, even after they have passed.

6. Dianthus

The Dianthus flower is a beautiful, rare flower that is vibrant and extremely unique in its design.

Coming from the Caryophyllaceae family, the Dianthus flower is just one of more than 300 species in total.

However, while the Dianthus has an extensive family, it is not always common to find flowers when walking out and about.

In Greek history, the Dianthus flowers were chosen to make ceremonial crowns for a variety of celebrations.

The actual word, Dianthus, comes from the Greek words “dios” (God), as well as “anthos” (flower).

The Dianthus flower can be loosely translated into “heavenly flower”, which is why some prefer to display the Dianthus after experiencing a loss or while they are going through the grieving process.

7. Rafflesia

Rafflesia flower.
User:Rendra Regen RaisCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Rafflesia flower, which is native to those who are living in tropical and subtropical climates throughout Southeast Asia, is from the family of Rafflesiaceae, which includes approximately 20 subspecies (including the Rafflesia flower itself).

The Rafflesia is a massive, overgrown flower that appears to have bright orange and reddish leather-like flower petals, giving this flower a true one-of-a-kind appearance, especially when found by chance in nature.

The flower itself was named after Sir Stamford Raffles, who was the founder of the British colony of Singapore, where the Rafflesia flower was first discovered.

While the Rafflesia flower is appealing and eye-catching, it is extremely parasitic in nature, which is why the flower has come to be known as closely associated with loss and death.

8. Red Spider Lily (Lycoris)

Lycoris flower.
Yasunori KoideCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The red spider lily, or the lycoris flower, comes from the Amaryllidaceae family of around 20 species in total.

The red spider lily can be found throughout most of Eastern Asia, such as in Japan and throughout various regions of China.

The flowers themselves come in different colors ranging from pink and yellow to red and white.

The stems of the lycoris are extremely tall and lanky and include extended stamens that make the flower appear spider-like at first glance.

The flower (Lycoris) was actually named after the mistress of Mark Antony, whose name was Lycoris.

Today, the spider lily is known as a symbol of both reincarnations of life as well as death, which is why they are sometimes prominently displayed after the loss of a loved one.

9. Aconite/Wolfsbane

Aconite/Wolfsbane flower.
Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Depending on where you are in the world, you have likely heard of aconite or wolfsbane at least once.

Wolfsbane, also known as aconitum in the scientific community, is a flower of the Ranunculaceae family of more than 300 species in total.

The wolfsbane flower includes large petals that appear to grow downwards and in a cone-like shape.

You can find aconite/wolfsbane flowers all throughout the Northern Hemisphere in many different countries around the world.

Aconite, the genus name of Wolfsbane, is derived from the Greek word “akonitos”, which can be translated into “pointed cone”, referencing the potentially deadly petals of the plant.

Because of the poisonous nature of the Wolfsbane, it is commonly associated with loss, death, and caution.

10. Dracula (Monkey Orchid)

Dracula Flower.
Dracula Flower
Kilitz PhotographyCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While this flower may simply appear similar to a monkey in its face, it has a rich history.

The Dracula, also commonly referred to as the monkey orchid, is among more than 100 species and is a part of the Orchidaceae family that can be found throughout South America as well as some parts of Central America.

The name “Dracula” was derived from the plant’s intimidating features and spooky fang-like appearance, similar to Dracula himself.

Throughout history and ancient legends, the monkey orchid has represented power, absolute authority, negative energy, and in some cases, even death and loss.


Becoming familiar with flowers that symbolize loss can help you to better prepare for an upcoming memorial, funeral, or gathering.

When you know which flowers are best for saying goodbye to loved ones or getting closure, you can find a floral arrangement that is suitable for just about any situation.

Header image courtesy: Photo by James Lee from Pexels