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It’s your funeral – why you should talk about it

Death is a largely taboo subject, yet it will happen to us all. Even at an early age, the death of a grandparent or a much-loved family pet is a common experience. Death is the only experience everyone is guaranteed to share, but only around 20% of UK adults have discussed their funeral wishes with anyone (2014 Dying Matters survey). We’re scared to talk about death in case it brings it into our lives, or upsets whoever we’re talking to. But talking about funerals can have real benefits. Here’s why you should be having this conversation.

Funerals are for the mourners not just the deceased A funeral is a rite of passage for the bereaved; bringing together the community of those who loved and will miss the person who has died to support each other, remember, and say goodbye. A good funeral service (whether ‘traditional’ or more informal) significantly benefits the bereaved. Conversely, a funeral which doesn’t give loved ones the chance to say goodbye in a way which is meaningful for them can complicate grief.

Decision making is difficult when we’re grieving Arranging a funeral involves a lot of decision making; whether to choose burial or cremation, where to hold the service, whether it should be religious or non-religious, what music, speakers or readings to include, to more minor decisions such as flowers, a charity, transport, even the type of coffin.

Funerals are increasingly more personal and individual as there are more choices available. This can result in a more fitting funeral, but making these decisions under pressure in the emotionally charged immediate aftermath of a death is not necessarily the best time to be doing so.

There are real benefits to talking with those you are close to about your own funeral:

  • Removing uncertainty – your family don’t have to guess what you wanted

  • No-one has to make big decisions when they’re grieving

  • There’s time to research options and discuss what works for all involved

  • You’ll have a more accurate idea of costs if you are considering making financial provision

  • You’ll creates a funeral which is right for you and your family, helping their grief

  • It’s less emotional to talk about death when there’s no immediate prospect of it happening

So, go on, be brave! Start talking to those who you love about your funeral wishes and theirs.

Get advice and guidance on how to start thinking about your Funeral Wishes here:

About the Author:

Chelsea Duke is a professionally qualified and experienced Funeral Celebrant and Funeral Director, and volunteers as Chair of local charity Winchester Bereavement Support. Chelsea works throughout Hampshire and the neighbouring counties to create unique funeral ceremonies either at the time of need, or to give advice and guidance to those thinking about their funeral in advance. Website: Facebook: LinkedIn:

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