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Top 10 Flowers That Symbolize Remembrance

Top 10 Flowers That Symbolize Remembrance

Remembering holidays, wars, and even loved ones who have passed on is often done with tradition and ceremony.

The use of floral arrangements has also been a common practice when it comes to grieving and when it comes to remembrance.

Knowing which flowers symbolize loss, grief, and remembrance can help with putting together a floral arrangement for any event or scenario you find yourself in.

Flowers that symbolize remembrance are: White Lilies, Pansy, Forget-Me-Not, White Roses, White Tulip, Hyacinth, Poppy, Orchid, Gladiolus and Pink Carnations.

1. White Lilies

White Lilies.
White Lilies
Image by Eleonora Sky from Pexels

One of the most common flowers that are commonly displayed during a funeral, wake, or memorial includes white lilies.

White lilies often represent the idea of innocence, purity, and sympathy, which make them the most suitable flower choice when grieving.

Along with grief and sympathy, white lilies can also solidify a commitment you have made to a loved one while also representing both faith as well as possible rebirth, depending on your own personal beliefs and associations with the flower.

Most often, if you are looking for a lily to take to a funeral or to a memorial, you will choose the white Stargazer lilies.

These lilies are commonly referred to as the ‘Snow Princess’ of all of the lilies available, and immediately bring the thought of sympathy and grieving to mind for most.

2. Pansy

Purple Pansy.
Purple Pansy
MuffetCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The word Pansy for pansy flowers is derived from the French word Pansee, meaning “penser”, or to ponder and think.

The name origin of the pansy is a major reason why the flower is still considered a thoughtful flower and a flower that best represents the remembrance of those who have passed on.

The pansy flower represents loving thoughts as well as remembrance.

When giving the gift of pansies to another, it may be interpreted as a sign of sympathy and/or empathy, especially if you have just recently lost someone special to you or a loved one.

In Victorian flower history, pansy flowers were known to be passed between secret lovers during courting.

They were also put to use in Ancient Chinese medicine for numerous centuries, with some claiming their ability to prevent and potentially shrink cancerous tumors.

The Greeks and the Romans believed that the pansy flower was not only ideal for remembering loved ones, but that it was also useful for alleviating headaches and soothing one’s heart.

3. Forget-Me-Not

hedera.baltica from Wrocław, Poland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Given the name, it is not difficult to conclude why the Forget-Me-Not flower has made this list.

The Forget-Me-Not flower is a symbol of remembrance, respect, and honoring those who have passed on.

Authentic Forget-Me-Not flowers, also known as Myosotis, are found as wildflowers throughout some parts of Europe, North America, as well as various regions throughout New Zealand.

Forget-Me-Nots were made popular as a symbol of remembrance after the ending of WWII, after the allies had won and the war was over.

Forget-Me-Not flowers were used to remember those who had sacrificed their lives in order to secure the freedoms that we love and enjoy for ourselves today.

Forget-Me-Not flowers are not only a sign of respect and loyalty, but have a much deeper meaning of remembrance for those who are aware of their own history.

4. White Roses

Hand holding a white rose.
White Rose
Photo by Sarah Coates on Unsplash

Roses are some of the most versatile flowers on planet Earth, as they come in a range of colors and take on various meanings and roles for just about any situation.

In many cases, the rose is considered a sign of mutual respect and love, especially when it is given in any other color besides red.

While the red rose is symbolic of deep romantic love, white roses are often a sign of innocence, purity, and, in the right situation, also remembrance.

While it is also possible to give a red rose to convey a message of deep and unconditional love or a yellow rose for friendship and companionship, it is almost always a universal decision to choose a white rose for sympathy and remembrance whenever possible.

There is also a ritual known as a special remembrance rose that can be planted as a tribute to loved ones who have passed on for years, if not decades to come.

5. White Tulip

A White Tulip.
A White Tulip
Rob HelfCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tulips are bright in nature and are often tall and vibrant, making them a joyous flower as they are one of the first flowers to bloom each year.

While many tulips, such as yellow and pink tulips, ignite a feeling of joy, excitement, and happiness, white tulips can be presented, gifted, or displayed for other reasons that are not always so pleasant.

Using a tulip to remember a loved one who has passed is possible with white tulips.

White tulips are used to demonstrate innocence, grieving, as well as sympathy for those who may be attending a funeral, wake, or memorial as part of the grieving process.

Using a white tulip is universal and will blend well with other white flowers that may be on display at a funeral or a gathering that represents the remembrance of your loved one.

6. Hyacinth

White Hyacinth.
White Hyacinth
André Karwath aka AkaCC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The hyacinth has a rich history that dates all the way back to Greek mythology.

Ultimately, the hyacinth garnered a reputation for being a flower that represents jealousy.

However, in some instances, a purple hyacinth flower can also be representative of feeling sad, sorrowful, or sorry about causing grief to another individual.

The hyacinth (most often the purple hyacinth) flower is representative of regret, and it can also be used as an olive branch to gain forgiveness from another.

For those who are feeling regretful, sorrowful, or who want forgiveness, giving a hyacinth flower is one way to convey the message you are trying to send without words.

Many who are familiar with Greek mythology also understand the complex nature of the hyacinth flower, which is why it is important to consider when you are using the hyacinth flower, especially if you are attending a wake, a funeral, or if you are still in the grieving process.

7. Poppy

White Poppy field.
White Poppy field
Image courtesy:

The poppy flower is used as a worldwide symbol of respect for those who have fought and given their lives during wartime.

Poppy flowers can be presented and placed directly on graves or they can be put on display during a funeral or memorial.

The red poppy flower is commonly referred to as ‘the remembrance poppy’, and is often placed on the caskets of soldiers who are returned home after being KIA, or Killed In Action.

Using a red poppy to display grief and to remember a loved one who has passed can help to showcase unconditional and eternal love, while pink poppies often represent compassion and platonic love.

As with most other flowers, the white poppy is also useful for those who wish to display their grief and sympathy using a universally accepted color.

8. Orchid

An orchid flower.
An orchid flower
Image Courtesy:

If you find yourself drawn to unique flowers and want a flower that is one-of-a-kind for a remembrance memorial or gathering, consider using a white or pink orchid.

Orchids are from the Orchidaceae family, also known as the orchid family.

There are thousands of orchids in the genus, as orchids are found all throughout South America, Asia, as well as Central America.

The actual name ‘orchid’ comes from the Greek word ‘orchis’, which can be translated to ‘testicle’, which represents the shape of the orchid flower and its petals.

While most orchid flowers represent beauty, wisdom, and love, it is not uncommon to see an orchid displayed or given as a sign of respect, sympathy, and remembrance.

In some cultures, it is perfectly acceptable to use a white orchid as a symbol of remembrance and sympathy for someone’s loss.

9. Gladiolus

Christer JohanssonCC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The gladiolus flower, also commonly known as glad, is derived from the Greek word ‘xiphium’, as well as the green word ‘xiphos’, which can be translated into ‘sword’.

The word gladiator may also sound familiar to you when thinking of the gladiolus flower.

Because of the name, the gladiolus flower represented the strength and character of so many gladiators of the time.

While the gladiolus is typically a symbol of strength, it can also be a pleasant gift to give to someone who is currently grieving the loss of someone they cared about and loved.

Using gladiolus flowers to display sympathy can also encourage strength in those who are struggling most during their time of need.

10. Pink Carnations

Carnation Flower.
Carnation Flower
AftabbanooriCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Carnations are some of the most welcoming and bright colors that can be suitable for just about any type of gathering or event.

However, if you are looking for a flower for remembrance that is not a traditional Stargazer Lily or another white flower, you may want to consider pink carnations.

Choosing to display or gift pink carnations as a symbol of remembrance is sending a sign that you care and are thinking of the individual(s) who may be affected by the loss.


Whether you are celebrating life after someone has passed on or if you are paying tribute to a particular holiday, event, or period of time, knowing the flowers that represent remembrance can help with creating an atmosphere and environment that is appropriate at any time.

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