How Are Attitudes Towards Death Changing In The UK?

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Death is often a subject that many of us would rather brush under the rug. After all, it can be an unpleasant topic that brings up negative feelings like anxiety, sadness and fear. Unsurprisingly, in the past, we have seen that people aren’t that comfortable with talking about planning for their own funeral - or even for someone else's.

But we are beginning to see attitudes changing. In the 2023 British Seniors Funeral Costs Report, 43% of the respondents said they have discussed plans for someone else's funeral before they passed away – and 40% told us that the deceased had made their own plans in advance. So, while death has always been a touchy subject, it appears that our attitude could be changing for the better.

Why does our attitude towards death matter?

How we think and feel about death can affect our ability to discuss our passing with our loved ones. It could also prevent us from making arrangements to help plan or pay for our own funeral. You might put it off because you don’t like to think about dying or you might not know how to have a conversation about death with your loved ones. But it could be important to discuss your funeral plans otherwise those close to you could be left feeling confused or overwhelmed.

It’s also important that we minimise the stigma associated with discussing death as it could do more harm than good to ignore it. Organisations like Dying Matters have appeared in recent years. The following statement from their website explains their mission...

“The Coalition’s Mission is to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. This will involve a fundamental change in society in which dying, death and bereavement will be seen and accepted as the natural part of everybody’s life cycle. Changes in the way society views dying and death have impacted on the experience of people who are dying and bereaved. Our lack of openness has affected the quality and range of support and care services available to patients and families. It has also affected our ability to die where or how we would wish.” - Dying Matters

Sometimes the biggest challenge is knowing where to start. Our Funeral Report showed that just 13% of Brits feel prepared when talking about funerals. Not only that, but when talking about funeral with other people, just over  2 in 5 people felt sad, 24% of people felt stressed and 15% felt helpless. Being open about your wishes and planning in advance could help to save your loved ones a lot of stress when the time comes.

And it’s not just funeral planning that can be a stressful experience, covering the cost of a funeral could leave your family in debt. These days, the average cost of a funeral in the UK is £4,515 with costs potentially rising to over £13,622 depending on the choices made. While £2,386 is the average contribution people have had to make to help pay for a loved one’s send-off. This is mostly covered by personal savings, credit cards and borrowed money1.

By allowing ourselves to think practically about our death or the death of a loved one, we can help our family prepare by providing guidance on our funeral wishes or by helping financially prepare for a funeral.

Has this change in attitudes affected funerals?

It seems that funerals have changed somewhat in recent years. The modernisation of funerals could be a response to changing attitudes towards death. It looks as if we are moving away from more traditional approaches to funeral planning. This is a sign that we’re thinking differently about death and saying goodbye. From our findings, it seems that personalisation is a big factor in funerals and there appears to be a sway towards a happier, less mournful farewell.

Here are the top 5 personalised elements that Brits would like at their own funeral:

  • 34% would like their favourite song to be played
  • 16% would like attendees to be dressed in colours
  • 15% would like their favourite flowers used
  • 8% would like a specific poem read out
  • 8% would like a specific eulogy

Are we more prepared for funerals these days?

Becoming comfortable with thinking about (and talking about) death means that we can be more prepared. When we come to terms with death, we can make arrangements, make our funeral wishes clear and most importantly, we can help to protect our loved ones from the stress of planning and paying for every aspect of our funeral.

Despite funeral cost awareness becoming more prominent in the media, 31% of respondents in the Funeral Costs Report 2023 have said that they they didn't have enough in their savings, while 34% had not set any money aside at all. It seems while people appear to be ok with talking about their death, we still have a long way to go when it comes to preparation.

If you’re worried about how your loved one might go about paying for your funeral costs and want to help them with these costs, then it could be worthwhile looking into Over 50 Life Insurance. We offer a range of plans that can help you secure financial support for your loved ones after you’ve passed away. Our Over 50 Life Insurance guarantees a lump sum to your family when you’re gone that can be used for end-of-life expenses, and our Funeral Insurance Plan is specifically designed to help your loved ones cope with funeral costs. Whatever plan suits you best, our experienced customer service team are here to help. You can call us for free on 0800 803 0052.

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British Seniors 2023 Funeral Report