Final Wishes – Does Anyone Know Yours

Half of UK adults risk taking final wishes to the grave

 

As this contribution from one of our own staff shows, it can be both painful and expensive when a family member dies and you don’t know what their final wishes were.  It can also be a financial problem too.   But this is an interesting study courtesy of Coop Funeralcare.

Lasting legacy of grief caused by loved ones second guessing funeral plans.

Final Wishes - cremation, burial?

Final Wishes

New research has found that a national fear of discussing death has burdened one in five of the bereaved with the extra distress and grief of second guessing their loved one’s final wishes and funeral plans.

Apparently 52% of UK adults are yet to express their final wishes.  Do they want burial or cremation, where, who should be invited.  Should there be a wake. Or a party.  In most cases, not even the next of kin knows (Ed: note to her indoors – cheap and cheerful with a party afterwards please!)

Four in ten of us know that they would like to be cremated. About one in six would prefer to be buried (do they understand the cost?) One in ten UK adults say fear of discussing death has stopped them from discussing their final wishes. Just under a third (30%) haven’t broached the subject because they just don’t know how to without upsetting their family.

The Coop found that as many as a fifth of UK adults have taken responsibility for arranging a funeral without any guidance left by the person who has passed away. A third of these individuals described the experience as being incredibly stressful or distressing, whilst almost half (47%) said that not being able to ask their loved one what they would have wanted caused the most distress.

Worse still, we would say, it often seems that every family member “knows” what the deceased would have wanted.   They all “know” something different, but which conflicts with the arrangements made by the person with the often thankless task of making the actual decisions. Family quarrels often follow.

Of those left to second guess a loved one’s final wishes issues include:

  • One in six still worry that they made the wrong decisions on behalf of their loved one.
  • Slightly more say they lost sleep as a result.
  • A third felt that the experience added to their grief.
  • One in five said that concerns about paying for the funeral caused further distress.
  • One in six experienced financial issues (Ed: we are surprised how low this figure was).

Amongst those who have expressed their funeral wishes or plans, the average age for doing this was 42, with those that haven’t yet made any plans saying that they expect to consider this by the age of 57. In spite of these intentions, as many as 37% of adults aged 55 and above are yet to communicate their final wishes in any way.

Commenting on the research, David Collingwood, Director of Operations for the Co-operative Funeralcare said,

“Talking about death is never easy and although you might have a clear idea about important final wishes, such as whether you’d like to be buried or cremated, it’s common to never feel like there’s a good time to bring the subject up.”

“There are many practical ways to communicate your final wishes and if you don’t feel comfortable having a direct conversation you can always leave details in writing for your loved ones, or articulate what you would want formally in a Will or funeral plan. So long as your next of kin know that these documents exist, this can be a good option for those who can’t seem to find the right time or the right words to tell those closest to them exactly what they’d want.”

Professor Douglas Davies, Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies at Durham University said,

“Though some people think hard about planning their own funeral, many do not and with various options now open to those making arrangements, getting it right isn’t easy if we’ve never discussed this with family or close friends.”

“Our funeral may be remembered for a long time and it makes sense that people feel it was ‘what we wanted’ because we said so, rather than because they had guessed our wishes. Death is a fact of life, so it makes sense to think about the future in good time and bring comfort to our loved ones rather than adding further worries to their grief.”