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Fresh and fragrant, flowers have a language all their own. This is never more evident than when someone dies and you feel both saddened and compelled to send a floral offering to make some attempt to cheer the bereaved.

However, in different cultures and religions, bouquets of flowers take on meanings unique to people who adhere to these traditions and it is easy to unwittingly offend someone.

Fortunately, many online flower delivery services offer articles regarding the appropriate flowers for funeral or memorial services as well as sending blossoms to someone's home after an individual has died. Typically, you can find this helpful information under the "Sympathy" tab and you might find it useful indeed. If you really care about the people to whom you are sending your online flowers, you will naturally want to respect their faith and customs.

For people of most Christian denominations, sending a floral bouquet is considered a kind gesture that is meant to comfort those closest to the person who died. Some denominations, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), do not display crosses, so if you want to be kind to your LDS friends, refrain from sending an online floral arrangement shaped like a cross or bearing images of a cross.

Other floral arrangements are welcome by LDS members and gifts of food or other flowers can also be sent to the home.

For other Christian denominations, you could send such things as a bouquet, a floral wreath mounted on a stand, a live plant or some other arrangement. If you are certain the deceased was a devout Roman Catholic, floral arrangements with crosses, crucifixes or rosary designs within the flowers or on the vase are suitable.

It also is considered good-hearted to send food or other gifts to the home of immediate family. Typically, the floral spray displayed atop a casket is chosen by the family.

Jehovah's Witnesses generally have fairly short funerals and gifts of flowers and food are welcome. However, since many people of that faith refrain from eating meat, you probably would be wise to avoid sending a gift basket that contained any meat products.

Many people might be surprised to find out it is generally not acceptable to send a floral arrangement when a Muslim individual dies. Gifts of food items for the family are welcome and are considered a respectful gesture.

If you have a Jewish friend or co-worker who has died, do not send flowers during the time the family is sitting shiva, which is a ritual seven-day period of mourning in a home. Foods that are prepared and ready to eat are good gifts at this time. You might want to quietly inquire whether this household keeps kosher and ensure that your food gift is in keeping with Jewish dietary laws.

It always makes sense to ask questions if you are unsure about what to do when honoring someone's life with a floral arrangement and showing the survivors that you care. If you have any doubts, ask the funeral home manager or discreetly check with one of the relatives before sending flowers online. It is better to err on the conservative side than to upset anyone further during a time of great unhappiness.

In situations where the obituary requests that charitable donations be made in lieu of flowers, it is a good idea to honor that request no matter how much you love flowers.

No matter what you choose, no doubt the recipient of your gift will be pleased that you took the time to order online flowers and remember the family in mourning as well as the life of the person who has died. Flowers really can show that you care.

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