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Do your loved ones know your funeral wishes?

Posted on 11 May 2016

Only 1% do...

  • Less than a third of us have spoken to someone about our funeral wishes dropping to just 17% of under 34s
  • SunLife is supporting the #bigconversation this Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 9-15) by launching My Perfect Send-Off - a free tool to record your funeral wishes

This week (May 9-15) is Dying Matters Awareness Week, an annual event run by the Dying Matters coalition to promote public awareness of dying, death and bereavement.

This year the theme is the #bigconversation and later life experts SunLife are working with the charity Dying Matters to launch My Perfect Send-Off.

My Perfect Send-Off is a free online planner which gently prompts people to talk about their funeral wishes by asking them questions such as ‘would you prefer to be buried, cremated or donate your body to science?’ and ‘Would you like a dress code at your service?’ The responses create a valuable document which can be kept with their will or sent to a loved one.

Graham Jones, director at SunLife said: “As part of Dying Awareness Week, Dying Matters has released its Death & Dying Survey, which examines public attitudes to a range of issues relating to death, dying and bereavement.

“The most striking figure is that only a quarter of us have spoken to someone about our end of life wishes, dropping to just 18% for those aged 34 and under. Furthermore, only 30% have talked to someone about their funeral wishes, again, dropping down to less than a fifth (17%) for under 34s.

“Our annual Cost of Dying report also reveals that people are not talking about detail and dying – we found that just 1% of people know all of their loved ones’ funeral wishes.

“And it is not just the finer details like flowers – significant decisions are not being talked about either, for example a third of those organising a funeral had no idea whether the deceased would have wanted to be buried or cremated.

“In response to our own figures and Dying Matters’ research we are launching My Perfect Send-Off to help people start that all important big conversation.”

Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters Coalition added: “Talking about dying doesn’t make it happen, and we all need to get better at discussing our end of life plans, including our funeral plans. It gives us peace of mind to know we’ve made and shared our plans, and it makes life easier for our loved ones to know they are giving us the perfect send-off we want. We’re delighted to be working with SunLife on their new send-off tool, and hope that people find it a really useful resource.”

Planning ahead

One in six have not discussed their funeral wishes solely because they are uncomfortable discussing it. This reluctance to talk about death also leads to not preparing for it financially – 41% of people make no financial provisions at all, which leaves one in six families in financial difficulty.

“Death should not be a taboo subject.” continues Mr Jones, “It eventually comes to us all, and when it does, if your loved ones are unprepared, it can cause a great deal of stress, both financially and emotionally at what is already a very difficult time. By asking some simple questions about funeral preferences, we think My Perfect Send-Off planner offers a nice, easy way to start the #bigconversation. And, for those who would still prefer not to discuss it face to face, it provides a private and secure way of recording your wishes.”

See SunLife’s free My Perfect Send-Off planner and watch SunLife’s video showing a series of interview clips with couples asking about their other half’s funeral wishes.


Figures taken from SunLife’s Cost of Dying Report and Dying Matters’ Death and Dying Survey