There are moments when even the most eloquent of us find words insufficient. When it comes to something as profoundly complex as death and grief, sometimes words alone are not enough to comfort a broken soul. That is why sometimes communicating through symbols helps.

Symbols are everywhere, from the colour of the clothes we wear to possibly every funeral rite that’s performed. But through adhering to a set of culturally-determined symbols, it forms a way to unite people and communicate even in a time where words are difficult to speak.

1. Symbols convey love

Have you ever tried to write a condolence message? Often, it feels like anything you write won’t be enough to mend the aching pain your bereaved loved one is experiencing. What most people do is opt for a short but simple message, and then convey their sympathies through a sympathy gift like a flower wreath.

The flower wreath is your way of expressing love, even with minimal words. The colour and type of flowers can say so much – through the colours, flower choice, and so on.

2. Symbols help us express

Symbols are not necessarily always for the sake of others. Sometimes, it is for ourselves too. When we grieve, we are seldom able to articulate exactly how we feel. Instead, symbols help us express our thoughts and feelings.

For example, the colour of our clothes can express our grieving hearts with dark and subdued colours. When we immerse in art therapy or journaling, it also helps when we draw things that symbolise our grief and pain. These need not be actual items, but could be abstract shapes and lines like jagged outlines and clashing colours.

3. Symbols unite a community

To the very practical and logical person, funeral rituals may seem unnecessary. But even if one does not believe in the religious rites, these customs still have merit as it brings people together. Many appreciate the various practices and traditions that unite the community in a time of loss and grief.

There is inexplicable comfort in knowing that you are not alone in experiencing grief. From eating the same food at the funeral, to taking part in the funeral rites, there is a sense of togetherness as you send off a loved one.

4. Symbols help us remember

When a loved one is no longer by your side, you can turn to objects that remind you of them. These serve to symbolise your relationship with them, and can be a source of comfort knowing that they’ve left a small part of themselves with you.

It could be a clothing item, a watch, or a stuffed toy, but the intrinsic value it holds as a symbol of your relationship makes it invaluable. Places and scents can also be precious symbols, immortalising your memories with your friend or family member.


Understanding that symbols are a big part of how we mourn allows us to better understand why people do the things they do during a time of grief. Even if some of these actions don’t seem logical or practical, the emotional impact it has is usually sufficient to condone them.

If you need help familiarising yourself with all these symbolic rituals at a Buddhist funeral, don’t hesitate to get assistance from a reputable funeral company in Singapore. Not only can they handle the formal and religious aspects of the funeral service, but they can also arrange the logistics of a wake and funeral for you, giving you more space and time to face this difficult time with your loved ones.