A new survey of British adults due to be released to coincide with Dying Matters Week 2016 has found that, even though people say they feel increasingly comfortable talking about death and dying, 14% say nothing would prompt them to think about their own funeral and nearly half (48%) would only be prompted to consider it when someone close to them had died.
A representative sample of 2,070 British adults was surveyed by polling company YouGov, on behalf of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and Cruse Bereavement Care, as part of ongoing research into the British public’s perceptions of funerals and funeral directors.
Although a separate YouGov report last year (Funeral Planning 2015) found that 7% of British adults now have a pre-paid funeral plan, this still leaves the vast majority of families without anything to work from when they are planning the funeral of someone close to them. In fact, the new study discovered that 51% of GB adults who have organised a funeral in the past five years had either not much or no information about the wishes of the person that had died.
At Cruse we work with more than 100,000 bereaved people every year, and know that this failure to plan or have discussions about funeral wishes can lead to uncertainty for thousands of families every year, adding to their distress at such a difficult time.
Debbie Kerslake, Chief Executive of Cruse said: “The death of someone close is likely to be one of the hardest things any of us will ever face. Arranging a funeral is the last thing we can do for a loved one and we want to make it personal and meaningful but not knowing their final wishes can make this particularly hard. We can all help those we love by thinking about what we want, having conversations and writing our wishes down.”
Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters coalition and trustee of Cruse, said: “Talking about death is nothing to be scared of. It might seem a bit awkward, but putting end of life plans in place is essential if we want to get the care and funeral we want, and to reduce the burden on our relatives. Talking about it won’t make it happen, and it allows us to get on with the rest of our lives knowing we’ve made our plans.”
NAFD President William Millar said: “Not wanting to talk about the death of a loved one or your own funeral is understandable. However, it brings with it considerable distress for the family when the time does come, whether that’s uncertainty as to what the person who has died would have wanted, family friction over what kind of funeral it will be or concerns over how much to spend.”
Since 2014 the NAFD has worked with the Dying Matters coalition on a simple guide to recording your funeral wishes for safe keeping.
Dying Matters week runs from 9-15 May 2015.