15 Popular Symbols Of Death & Mourning Around The World

Symbols of Death & Mourning Around The World

Different cultures have different symbols representing death and after-life. These signs and symbols have found their way in modern culture. They can help us manage emotions during times of grief and loss. It is interesting to understand the death symbols from different cultures. This article is about the significance of a death symbol in different cultures.


Plants that symbolize death and mourning also work as reminders of peace and harmony. People exchange flowers during funerals to express their turmoil and offer strength to others.

1. Cypress Trees

Cypress trees are common in graveyards. It is because these trees grow without disturbing the caskets underneath them. If you have walked in a gravesite in warm weather, you will find these trees blooming everywhere.

2. Lily

Lily is a death symbol, but they don’t indicate sadness. Due to the light color, lilies signify the return of innocence after death. They also play a significant role in mythology and fiction, due to which people associate them with grief and mourning.

3. Hyacinth

These flowers symbolize strength, beauty, and hopefulness during death. However, they also indicate dying and grieving. They are a customary item during funerals. People offer them as a sign of encouragement for loved ones.

4. Red Poppies

The poppy is among the rare plants that can grow on the disturbed surface of the earth in Europe. People use red poppies to remember victims who died during World war 1 and 2. After the war ended, red poppies bloomed throughout the land. Their red color was a symbol of the blood of the fallen people.

5. Chrysanthemums

Humans have cultivated these beautiful flowers for centuries. In the 15th century, Chinese people believed that these flowers brought life. It is common to find them in funerals as symbols of encouragement.


People have associated some animals with death due to their appearance. You can find many of these animals referencing death in pop culture.

6. Black cat

Many cultures have associated Black cats with death and bad luck. Many cultures say if a black cat crosses your path, you will receive bad luck. During the 16th century, Italian people believed that a sick person would die if a black cat sat on their bed.

7. Raven

People have associated Ravens with that for a long time. Edgar Allen Poe wrote a poem about the same. The bird in his poem keeps repeating the word nevermore, driving the listener to insanity. Ravens have carried a lot of significance in Christianity, often representing the devil.

8. Ram

The Church of Satan has Ram’s head as its symbol, associating it with death and devils. The Ram has represented many deities with horns. However, these associations took a dark turn, and people began associating the animal with death.

9. Vulture 

Vultures eat corpses to survive, indicating that they eat death. Due to their dark coloration and lifestyle, people have associated with that for a long time.

10. Bat

Thanks to stories about vampires, people have started considering bats as a death symbol. Apart from death, people also associated bats with negative energy.


People have associated death with several inanimate objects. Using these objects as death symbols make it easy to express grief.

11. Skull

The skull symbolizes death in many cultures. It reminds us that everyone is just a bone underneath, indicating that life is fleeting and uncertain.

12. Candles

People carry candles during funerals, memorials, and other events related to death. Candles are also a symbol of peace. People use candles to bring families close while grieving.

13. Flag at Half-Mast

A flag at half-mast is a symbol for paying respects to the deceased loved one. The space at the top of the pole symbolizes the invisible flag of death.

14. Clocks

Clocks and other time symbols remind us that our time on the earth has a limit. Every passing minute brings us closer to death. In some cultures, it is custom to stop the clocks while mourning a deceased loved one.

15. Black Color

People from many cultures have associated the black color with death and negative energy. It is the most common death symbol in the world. People dress in Black in western funerals. During the middle ages, Victorian people wore black to express feelings of turmoil.

These 15 death symbols have brought people closer during grief. Some of these symbols are culture-specific, while others are universal. From animals and plants to inanimate objects, they make it easy to express our emotions.