The Hawaiian lei can mean many different things. Among them are appreciation, love, and commitment. However, it can also be a sign of mourning. At funeral services, the lei takes on a somber meaning, and knowing how to choose the right lei for a family funeral is critical to avoid any complications. Be aware of the meanings and traditions behind lei etiquette and the service to honor the life of a loved one.
The Meaning of the Funeral Lei
As previously mentioned, the lei can take on many meanings, but the most important one during a funeral service is honor. The lei shows that the individual attending the service has great respect for the deceased and is a sign of support for the family.
What To Do With the Lei During the Service
There are several ways to use the lei during the funeral service. One of the most common is to drape the lei over a picture of the departed. As people come in, the picture becomes surrounded by more and more lei, serving as a physical representation of the love and respect surrounding the family and the deceased.
Additionally, people present the lei to the immediate family of the deceased. They drape it over their shoulders. This is a sign of solidarity and shows the family they’re not alone in their grief and that everyone is there for them.
What To Do With the Lei After the Service
Once the service concludes, it’s customary for the funeral attendees to make a trip to the nearest body of water. In Hawaii, this is traditionally the Pacific Ocean. Everyone unstrings the flowers from their lei and throws them into the water as a symbol of the cyclical nature of life.
Alternatively, people can make a trip that holds special meaning to the departed. For instance, they may go to a place the person who passed away enjoyed visiting. Once there, just like casting the flowers into the ocean, they unstring their flowers and leave them in that special place.
Popular Lei for Funeral Services
While there are no wrong answers for a memorial lei, there are some customary flowers to adorn yourself with. One of the most popular flowers is the maile-style ti-leaf lei. Another is the orchid lei, which can have a wide range of colors. The hues add more beauty and life to the service.
Whatever you decide to wear to the service, ensure you know what lei to choose for a funeral and the appropriate etiquette once at the service.