Symbols of mourning are useful tools to help us through difficult times. Loss is part of life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to make the loss easier.

Symbols of Mourning

16 Mourning Symbols to Help You Move On

1. Veil

A small black veil is a common symbol of mourning. It adds an air of solemnity that many yearn for when in mourning to help them express their grief. 

2. Half-Mast Flag

Flags at half-mast are to honor someone who dies. It is for someone of importance who made a difference in the world or the community.

3. Tombstone

The tombstone is a practical symbol of mourning. They are grave markers that loved ones pick out for the dead to honor their life and to have a place to connect with them.

4. Rainbow

Rainbows are to symbolize the loss of a child. This can be in the womb or as a baby, which is why the children born after the loss of one baby are rainbow babies. The organization Rainbows is also a place that helps children grieve. 

5. Wreath

Wreaths have many meanings, including mourning. They are a reminder that even though someone is no longer on earth, they have left a legacy that will continue to grow. That’s why these wreaths are often placed on caskets.

6. Urn

Urns are symbols of mourning because they keep the ashes of a loved one. They are a symbol of mourning, which dates back to ancient Greece.

7. Clocks

Clocks are symbols of mourning, just like hourglasses. They both represent the passing of time, how it heals all wounds, and how respect can be paid by stopping clocks at the time of death.

8. Cross

Crosses represent the death and rebirth of Christ. This is a good reminder that life is eternal in the Christian faith and that we will see loved ones again.

9. Candles

Candles represent mourning. They are used at funerals and other death rituals to bring people together and welcome deceased loved ones to visit the living.

10. Face in Hands

Hands holding a face is a symbol of comfort and mourning. It is a good example of a healthy way to express feelings and how we can comfort ourselves and others with a human connection. 

11. Tears (with bottles)

Tears are healthy signs of mourning. They are often used with containers to symbolize the fact that every tear is caught by a higher power and remembered by loved ones who are mourning with us.

12. Cloud

Clouds are symbols of mourning. They remind us that there is life out there, even after death. Some cultures put a lot of stock into the visible heavens and how it connects us to another realm of the dead. 

13. Skull

Skulls can represent both death and mourning. In Hamlet, a skull is a symbol of death and a reminder that life is short, so we should make the most of it.

14. Potatoes

Funeral potatoes are a common dish, primarily in America. They are filling and crowd-pleasing, giving people in mourning something to eat whenever they don’t feel like eating. 

15. Scythe

Scythes are known for being used by Death. They were once used to bury loved ones and are now a symbol used to keep the memories of loved ones alive.

16. Black

Black is the color of mourning. It is tradition to wear black to funerals. But not long ago, people wore black every day for up to five years after a loved one’s death. This began in Ancient Rome when mourners wanted the world to know they were thinking of their loved ones and taking their deaths seriously. 

Flowers That Symbolize Mourning

  • Poppy – common flower to remember the fallen from the world wars as they grew naturally on the battle scenes during this time
  • Hyacinth – a symbol of sorrow used to help people grieve and mourn
  • Chrysthaneum  – in China, people once believed that these flowers could give life, so they were used in graveyards and funerals
  • Lily – in ancient times, the lily had ties to death and is now a common funeral flower

Animal Mourning Symbols

  • Vulture – these birds are known for circling those near death and cleaning up carcasses
  • Raven – an intelligent bird with the symbolism of death, mourning, and in certain cases, evil
  • Black Cat – sometimes bad luck and sometimes used to comfort those who are ill or in mourning
  • Ram – connected to the occult, death, and mourning

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