How to talk about dying

HOW TO TALK ABOUT DYING

Monday, November 13, 2017

When people first visit a funeral director, most people have no idea about the wishes of the their loved one. What will happen at our funeral is not something that is a regular topic of conversation for most people. However, it’s inevitable that it will one day happen and loved ones will be left behind to organise and plan. It doesn’t have to be like this, and the more we talk about our death, at every stage of life, the easier these conversations become.

Why it’s good to talk
We are often faced with families, in their pain and grief, who struggle to make these decisions, and have the added pressure of worrying that they are somehow getting it wrong. They may have ideas of what they liked or were passionate about, but memories can differ or be misread. Only a small fraction have a clue what kind of service they would have preferred but almost all of them say they wished they did.

Research shows more than half of UK adults (54%) have avoided difficult conversations. However over 11.5 million of them (22%) regret not having a conversation about death and dying with a loved one who has since passed away.

Those families who meet us, who have already had a discussion with their loved one, find the process much easier and are able to use the occasion to truly celebrate their life and all that they held dear.

When to bring it up
It can be an awkward conversation, and suddenly asking about funeral wishes can put a dampener on Sunday lunch. However, the earlier we talk about it, the better. Talking about someone’s funeral doesn’t make their death more likely, even for the most superstitious amongst us, and it can even be a light-hearted conversation. The earlier you can have these conversations, when people are relatively young and in good health, the better.

If someone is approaching the end of their life, it is a more sensitive conversation, but can still be done with love and warmth.

Many people are reluctant to discuss funerals in order to protect their grown up children who may find it hard to talk about. Many children don’t want to think about their parents dying, or worry that it will be seen as insensitive, so everyone avoids the subject. You may even find that it’s an easier conversation to have with older grandchildren than directly between parent and child.

A good time to talk about it is when another funeral has taken place – it could be a friend or relative, or even a celebrity funeral. Many people find this is a good way to introduce the subject without others feeling uncomfortable.

It could even be when a particular song comes on the radio. Talk about it little and often.

“I want My Way played at my funeral, the Elvis one, not Sinatra”
“I don’t want black at my funeral, I’d like everyone in purple”

Some questions that can be useful to have answers to include:

  • Do you want to be buried or cremated, or your body donated to science?
  • Do you want a religious or non-religious service?
  • Is there a particular charity you would like donations for, or do you want flowers?
  • Is a traditional service more appropriate or would you like something more tailored to reflect your life?
  • What music do you like? Is there a particular song or reading you feel sums up your life?
  • Where do you want to be buried or your ashes scattered?

If they don’t wish to discuss it but have, or in the process of drawing up, a will, you could even suggest they add details there. Dying Matters have produced this leaflet for you to fill out and leave behind: My Funeral Wishes

Organise the whole thing
For people who have planned their own funeral in advance, these questions can all be answered. Not only will the costs and arrangements be taken care of, but the finer details can also be agreed in advance. Nothing is definite, and people are welcome to change their minds but it is a good place to start.

If you’d like to talk to one of our advisors about our pre-paid options, get in touch with our closest branch :-

Barlestone 01455 290 356 gilliversfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Bedworth 024 7631 4823 bedworthfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Coventry 024 7622 5826 coventryfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Daventry 01327 707 905 daventryfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Earl Shilton 01455 844 400 earlshiltonfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Hinckley 01455 233 974 ajmurrayfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Kenilworth 01926 856 699 kenilworthfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Leamington Spa 01926 428 665 leamingtonspafs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Nuneaton 024 7638 2535 nuneatonfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk
Rugby 01788 576 099 rugbyfs@heartofengland-coop.co.uk