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Changing Times

How can you keep flowers a vital part of these evolving end-of-life traditions? Read more to learn the latest in sympathy trends in our ever-evolving industry.


If your business includes sympathy flowers, then you know: Cremations have surpassed burials. In addition, more families are choosing life celebrations and other non-traditional ceremonies. And memorial services are often scheduled in weeks or months rather than days. These three trends can change or reduce sympathy floral arrangement sales.

How can you keep flowers a vital part of these evolving end-of-life traditions? First, understand the trends (a summary follows). Second, keep your faith in flowers. Third? Offer updated and innovative designs. We discuss six floral design ideas here, four for urns and two personalized "new" tradition designs.


In 2016, cremations surpassed the number of casketed burials at 50.1 percent and cremations are now the most popular form of disposition. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) predicts 54 percent cremations by 2020. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) suggests 80 percent by 2035.


An important step for florists may lie in educating the customer of the emotional value of comforting the living with flowers. Personalizing designs is one way to connect. 

Customized designs that express elements of one's personality, hobbies, occupation, or favorite colors create an emotional connection with viewers who feel the empathy expressed by the sender.


If cost is leading more families to choose cremation, the same may be true to purchasing flowers. Along with sympathy designs for traditional funerals, you may want to consider also offering less expensive flower options for more informal services. 

Perhaps offering smaller bundles of flowers or hand-tied bouquets that can be laid at the base of the memorial table by attendees might be on cost-effective option to market to customers.


Some families are planning life celebrations rather than funerals, and many funeral businesses are changing to life celebration centers to accommodate that business. These life events offer new floral opportunities for florists.

Develop a menu of flower options for guest and buffet tables at each event facility in your area. Visit the life centers and video a walk-through of each site. On camera, point out the spaces where flowers can be used to complement life events. Share the video with your customers during consultations to guide them in planning their flowers.

Place the video online so it can be viewed by people seeking a facility or florist. Also encourage venues to post your online video on their website and social media pages to reach potential clients for both of you.


Cremation allows the memorial to be scheduled at a time convenient for everyone to gather together, even months later. This is challenging for florists because it bypasses the emotional impulse to send flowers of comfort to a grieving family at the time of death. 

Yet, cremation offers the flexibility for one-of-a-kind memorials or the opportunity to scatter ashes in a beloved space or at sea... and florists can offer packages of petals to scatter or floral designs that float.

Plus, more outdoor memorials are taking place in non-traditional spaces...enabling florists to suggest flower arrangements that mark the facility entrance or adorn the speaker's stand, as well as flowers that surround framed photograph collections or personal treasures on a memory table.