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Families left in the dark as UK adults admit to not discussing death or funeral plans

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Fears that families will be left in the dark over loved ones’ funeral plans according to new research from MetLife. The Last Word, Tackling the death and funeral planning taboo, examines attitudes and behaviours towards death and funeral planning in the last two years. It found that more than half (53%) of UK adults haven’t spoken to anyone about taking on the responsibility of planning their funeral when they are no longer here. In addition, more than two in five (44%) UK adults say they haven’t spoken to anyone about their funeral preferences for when the time comes.

The study found that discussing death and later life planning remains a taboo subject, despite the unfortunate certainty that we will all pass away. It revealed that almost one in three (32%) confirmed they never or rarely talk about death. A fifth (22%) don’t talk about death or future planning because they don’t want to think about it, while 14% don’t talk about it because they find it too uncomfortable to talk about.

It is clear when the discussions are held, however, that it is very much a family affair. Of those who have spoken to loved ones about funeral plans, one in four (28%) have discussed with their partner/spouse, while one in seven (15%) have spoken to their children, and one in ten (9%) have turned to their siblings.

 Have you spoken to anyone about your death/funeral planning?  Have you spoken to anyone about who might carry out planning your funeral when you pass away?
Partner/spouse28%20%
Child(ren)15%13%
Siblings9%5%
Friend8%4%
Parent7%4%
Cousin3%2%
Funeral plan / directors2%3%
Aunt2%1%
Colleague2%1%

Triggers for discussing death and funerals:

  • The death of a loved one / friend – 37%
  • Health scare or illness – 28%
  • A loved one broaching the topic – 17%
  • Will planning – 16%
  • Milestone i.e. anniversary, birthday – 10%
  • TV show, movie, play or book       – 10%
  • News article/ Social media post – 7%
  • Financial adviser – 5%

Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK said: “Losing someone close to us is something that none of us want to think about. But unfortunately, is not only one of life’s certainties, but a very emotionally difficult one too. Whilst it can be hard to start the conversation, tackling this taboo head on is critical to ensure those left behind don’t take on an ever greater additional emotional burden.

“Our report identifies the impact of having those conversations earlier. By sharing our wishes and being better prepared – we can be more confident we are arming those we love most with the information and support they will need. Unfortunately, nothing will ever ease the pain of losing someone we love, but planning and understanding ones wishes, can go some way to making an emotionally challenging time a little easier. Thinking of it perhaps as the ‘legacy of love’ can make it easier to open up the conversation and come from a place of the upmost love and care. “At MetLife, we focus on how we can play a bigger role in helping families navigate grief from our product offering through to gaining a better insight into how our customers feel. Through our latest Group Life offering, we offer 1.4 million UK employees covered by MetLife, access to services to consider, plan, navigate and carry out funeral planning, including a free will writing service, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is no greater gift than getting your considerations and plans in place so that when the time comes, you allow your family more time to grieve.”

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