A study has found that over half of adults would now go down the route of an unconventional funeral service when they die.
With secularism on the rise, a study by will writer and funeral provider Farewill, has revealed 55 per cent of Brits don’t want hymns, a hearse and an all-black dress code.
It also found that over a third (37 per cent) wanted their funeral to feel more like a celebration of life and close to one quarter (22 per cent) would desire a modern and more personal funeral such as a live-stream of the service.
Asked as to why they were choosing to go against tradition, over two fifths (41 per cent) said because they don’t belong to a religion. While 38 per cent were concerned about the cost of the ceremony.
Those who are more environmentally conscious commented that they would prefer a green burial, with one stating that they would certainly request reggae music instead of hymns.
Others focused on donating their body to science, wanting a woodland burial or even being buried in their family’s garden.
Is the subject of death still considered taboo?
While a more celebratory, personal service, appears to be growing in popularity, the research by Farewill also demonstrates that the act of talking about death is still a taboo for many.
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of people haven’t spoken to their partner or a close relative about their end-of-life wishes. A quarter (25 per cent) find it too morbid to bring up in conversation and more than a fifth (21 per cent) comment that it feel as if it’s something to worry about in the future, not right now.
Gen Z, despite being the youngest group surveyed, are in fact the generation most likely to have discussed end-of-life wishes with their loved ones (63 per cent), in comparison to millennials who’ve braved the subject the least at 50 per cent.
Has Covid-19 shifted our attitude towards death?
The Covid-19 pandemic has indeed lead the public to being more open when it comes to discussing death more broadly, with over a third (34 per cent) saying that it has pushed them to talk about the topic with friends and family.
54 per cent of people attribute this to witnessing the daily death tolls in the headlines, while 48 per cent say that death has simply felt closer to home over the last 18 months.
A third of Londoners (33 per cent) said that Covid-19 triggered these types of conversations as there was realisation that they hadn’t taken any steps to prepare for death – the highest proportion in the UK – compared to just six per cent of people from Northern Ireland.
Bringing the topic to discussion with children
Despite these shifts in attitude, many are still reluctant to speak to children about death. Over a third (35 per cent) of people believe that children shouldn’t learn about the realities of death until they’re aged ten or older. Nearly half (49 per cent) state that this is because it would upset the child too much, whilst 41 per cent say it will scare them.
Of those who would tackle this difficult conversation with a child, many would favour a straight talking approach. Only 18 per cent would put euphemisms in place and over two fifths (45 per cent) would encourage the child to ask questions.
Surprisingly, those aged 18-24 are the most open to discussing the realities of death with children from an early age. 60 per cent say that they would inform a child under ten, compared to just 27 per cent of respondents aged 55 and over.
Speaking on the findings, Dan Garrett, CEO of Farewill, said: “For too long, we’ve defaulted to the Victorian approach to death. But research shows people’s attitudes to death are changing.
“Our study tells us that more and more people are looking at the solemn, very formal traditional funeral and deciding it’s not for them. The good news is the funeral industry is finally modernising, with funeral providers like Farewill helping people to have more meaningful, personal funeral services.
“The important thing is not to be afraid to talk or think about death. It can be a difficult subject but reluctance to discuss it is why many people end up with a funeral that doesn’t represent who they are.
“We’d suggest that anyone – no matter their age – has a think about what they want, and discusses it with friends or family. It can be one of the most meaningful conversations a person can have.”
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