Recording your funeral preferences is a good place to start
45% of funerals DON’T have hymns and there’s been an 80% increase in ‘celebration of life’ services, but do your family know what you want?
This Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 8-15) asks #Whatcanyoudo? Recording your funeral preferences is a good place to start…
When it comes to alternative funerals the baby boomers have done it again. The generation known for its defiance and unconventional fashion statements are saying goodbye to traditional funeral arrangements and opting for more imaginative alternatives or humanist or non-religious funerals instead.
According to SunLife’s Cost of Dying report, 45% of people no longer have hymns at their funerals, more than half of funeral directors have seen a decrease in religious services and 80% have seen an increase in ‘celebration of life’ type services.
And, where once funeral guests were only found wearing black and looking sombre, these days they may well be wearing colour, releasing balloons, toe-tapping to a live band or marvelling at a fabulous firework display in celebration of a life well lived.
In fact, according to the latest Cost of Dying report, one in eight made special requests for their funerals, ranging from ‘no black’ and specific requests for colours and sports team shirts right through to requesting a butterfly release at the service. One person even requested for there to be a bouncy castle at their wake for mourners to enjoy!
Celebrity farewells have led the way in creating headline-hitting alternative funerals reflecting the characters they were; Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers have all proved to be as big personalities in death as they were in life, while David Bowie’s decision to go the other way and have a direct cremation has caused an uplift in this basic ‘no frills’ type of funeral.
“It makes sense that people’s funerals will be as personal as any other event in their life,” explains Graham Jones, commercial director at SunLife, “but, if you don’t talk to your family about what you want, they are not going to be able to arrange your perfect send-off.”
SunLife’s research shows that almost a quarter (22%) of those organising a funeral have absolutely no idea what their loved one would have wanted, in fact, only 1% of people organising a funeral know ALL the funeral preferences of the deceased.
So, this Dying Matters Awareness Week, SunLife is supporting Dying Matters’ #whatcanyoudo campaign to get people talking about death and thinking about what they can do now to make things easier for their families and friends when the time comes.
Graham continues: “If you want a funeral with a difference – maybe a paparazzi-worthy party or firework finale, it can pay to plan ahead – both making financial provision to pay for it and recording your wishes. After all, without discussing our funeral arrangements and considering the cost of it all, who knows what send-off we might get.”
To help, SunLife has launched My Perfect Send-Off; a simple way to make some important choices about your funeral wishes, giving you a valuable document you can keep with your Will or send to a loved one, while our funeral calculator helps you work out how much your perfect send-off will cost – the average funeral in the UK now costs £3,985 (SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2016)
Claire Henry MBE, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters coalition added: “This year during Dying Matters Awareness Week, we are asking What Can You Do? This aims to get people more active in planning for dying and death and helping support those who may need it. One really important thing you can do is let your family and the people who are important to you know what you’d want for your funeral. This can avoid family fall outs at a very emotional time. Knowing there’s been a good send-off can help people in their grieving process.”
Visit Dying Matters Awareness Week for more information about how to get involved.
All stats taken from SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2016.