How To Talk About Funeral Wishes With Your Loved Ones

Man and son sitting on sofa as dad discusses his funeral wishes

Talking about death is important. It’s not pleasant, it’s not easy but it is important.

Generally, we don’t like to think about dying or our own mortality, but when we avoid it, we could risk leaving our family unprepared for the planning and costs associated with our funeral. So how do you approach a sensitive subject like this?

Discussing your funeral plans and any financial plans relating to your death could be a difficult conversation to have. At British Seniors, we understand the importance of planning for our eventual death and every day we help people all over the UK do just that. Thankfully, there are some practical steps you can take to make it easier.

Before the conversation

Set a time and place

Choose a suitable time and a place where you feel relaxed and comfortable, like your own home. Then you must decide who you want to speak with. Think carefully about who will benefit from the conversation. This will likely be anyone who will be involved with planning or paying for your funeral. It’s up to you if you would like to make the topic clear before the discussion or not.

How to start the conversation

It can be hard for your family to know what you want. They might like to know but are afraid to reach out, so it could be better to start the conversation.

If there is a specific reason why you want to discuss your funeral, for instance, you are sick or you are entering old age and are concerned about your health, this might make the conversation tougher. If it’s something you would like to get over and done with sooner rather than later for everyone’s convenience, then it might be that bit easier.

Remember that the reason for this conversation is to make your wishes clear but don’t forget, it’s not just about you, listen to any concerns your loved ones might have too. Be respectful of the fact that the subject may be quite hard on your loved ones and in some cases, there may even be disagreements regarding your wishes.

During the conversation

Be honest

We might feel the need to say what our loved ones want to hear to avoid upset or confrontation. However, it’s best to be open and honest.

Stay calm and remain grounded

You might feel a mix of emotions, anything from nervous to fearful, even vulnerable. If you feel your heart starting to race, take some deep breaths and plant your feet firmly on the floor. This will help you remain grounded and present.

Choice of language 

If you’re worried about upsetting someone, you could use softer language in place of ‘death’ and ‘dying’ i.e. pass away or ‘when I’m gone’.

Prepare for an emotional response

It’s perfectly normal for emotions to run high. If some tears are shed or there’s tension, that’s ok. Try to remain calm and carry on with the conversation until you’ve made your wishes clear.

What should I talk about?

You should bring up your funeral wishes and any financial support you have in place for your funeral. You could also take this opportunity to discuss things like your Will, life insurance beneficiaries, or your estate.

Payment for the funeral

Do you have savings, a funeral plan or some financial protection in place for your funeral? If so, you should make your loved ones aware and hand over any important details they might need. This could be details of a bank or an insurer.

Having protection like Over 50 Life Insurance could help to put your loved ones’ minds at ease as it can be used towards funeral expenses. It might come as a surprise to hear that £2,386 is the average contribution family members make to a funeral. If you have chosen beneficiaries for a life insurance policy, you could use this time to make them aware of the policy.

Your funeral wishes

Here are some key items you might want to address when discussing your funeral wishes:

  1. How would you like your remains to be handled? i.e. cremation, burial, ashes kept by family vs spread somewhere special.
  2. Where would you like to hold the funeral? A church, your home, another venue?
  3. Secular or religious funeral?
  4. Who will give the eulogy?
  5. What personal touches would you like to add?
  6. Open or closed casket?
  7. Who are your preferred pallbearers?
  8. Have you picked a funeral director?
  9. Do you have life insurance, savings or a funeral plan or will the family be expected to pay?
  10. Do you have a preference when it comes to burial clothing, makeup, hair?
  11. How would you like the disposition of your body handled? i.e. donated to science, ashes spread in a place of your choosing

Your Will and estate

If you have a Will you could let your loved ones know where to find it. If you want to, you can even discuss your estate.

What you would like to happen to your pets?

Do you have pets? Is there someone you trust to look after them when you’re gone? You can use this opportunity to let your family know what to do with your beloved pet as well as information on any medication or veterinary contacts they may need.

Make room for questions and concerns

Your loved ones will likely have questions or concerns. Let them know that it’s ok to express their opinion. Be aware that disagreements could arise but do try to hear your family out. Let them know that you hear them and you respect their input but it is you who should get the final say on how your funeral, your assets, your pets and any other details are handled. The conversation should end with a sense that all issues have been addressed and any confusion has been cleared up.

If you would like some help with covering the cost of your funeral, it’s easy to secure cover with British Seniors. You can secure our Over 50 Life Insurance online or over the phone in minutes. Our life cover is guaranteed for UK residents aged 50-80. We even offer all our Over 50 Life Insurance policyholders a FREE Will Kit worth £100. This kit includes all the information you need to write a legally approved Will.

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