Only one in nine have made their funeral wishes known

Categories: Community Engagement.

My Funeral Wishes is being launched today by the Dying Matters coalition and the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) to encourage and enable people to plan their own funerals down to the finest details, to ensure that their wishes will be met.

In a new survey by the National Association of Funeral Directors, 71% of funeral directors said that people are becoming more comfortable in talking about their death and funeral, however, people are still reluctant to write down their wishes.

The survey also found that even among funeral directors, 42% had not made their funeral wishes known – although this is still higher than for the general population. 

My Funeral Wishes

The national publication of My Funeral Wishes – which can be downloaded from the Dying Matters website or the National Association of Funeral Directors website – comes after a successful pilot in Birmingham and Lewisham.

My Funeral Wishes is a short leaflet which guides people through a range of questions, prompting them to think about what they would like to see in their ceremony or be buried with them.

It includes questions on where you would like your funeral to take place and where you would like to be buried, as well as details of any readings or music you would like. It also asks if you want the service to be religious or not and how you would like to be dressed.

The NAFD said that as more people became willing to talk about their funerals, it has led to a growing number of unusual requests for ceremonies, including Wild West themes and Morris dancing. Other unusual requests include a convoy of cranes leading the cortege, a farmer being asked to be buried at the highest point on his land, and a company director being buried at the end of his garden next to his beloved golf course.

lan Slater, NAFD Chief Executive, said: “It is interesting that 42% of funeral directors have not planned their funeral, although many will say their colleagues know what they want and of course it is still a far higher percentage than the general public.

“My Funeral Wishes is a great tool for taking the guesswork out of a situation at a time of grief and when families are already under a great deal of stress, and help ease that emotional burden. Having a written guide from the person who has died affords grieving families great comfort that they are putting on a ceremony that is relevant and that their loved one wanted.”

Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of Dying Matters, said: “My Funeral Wishes allows family members to have an open discussion and for people to plan properly. We have found people, particularly older people, have really felt like it’s a good idea. You don’t have to be unwell or dying to plan ahead, and recording your funeral wishes can help ensure you get your wishes met and makes it easier for your family.”

The cost of dying

As highlighted by a report published by the University of Bath last month, the average cost of a funeral increased by 80% between 2004 and 2013, and the costs of dying are expected to continue to increase over the next 5 years.

Eve added: “Funeral costs are rising, and those left behind do not want to be seen as scrimping on a funeral for a loved one. It is a good time for people to think about how they would meet the cost. Research shows more people are becoming comfortable about talking about dying, death and bereavement; the next step is to actually write down what they want for themselves when they die.”

Following the launch of the new guide, BBC News spoke to funeral director Dominic Maguire and Malcolm Brocklehurst, who has rehearsed his own funeral and designed his own coffin. You can see the interview on the BBC News website. 

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