While almost two-thirds of Brits say they would find it ‘very stressful’ to arrange a funeral without knowing what kind of send-off their loved ones wanted, this study suggests millions of Baby Boomers will have seen their parents pass without knowing their final wishes.
Reassuringly, almost two thirds (62%) of 18-25-year-olds say they have actually had a conversation about mortality. Almost half (45%) are more likely to turn to a friend, with mum coming a close second (41%); however young people are less likely to speak to dad about death (30%), than to gran or grandad (35%) or a sibling (32%).
Interestingly, young Brits today are more comfortable talking about their own death (60%), than someone else’s (54%). Despite ushering in a new era of openness, they confess to finding the conversation sad (49%), scary (41%), difficult (33%) and uncomfortable (33%). In stark contrast, the over 65s are more likely to use words such as necessary (57%), important (50%) and natural (39%).
Catherine Powell, co-founder and director of Pure Cremation, said: “These findings show that while avoidance of talking about dying is an epidemic among the over 65s, this age group has the best understanding of the value of the conversation.
“Although there is still a lot of work to be done to remove any fear and awkwardness around the subject, it is hugely encouraging that a brave new generation of young people are up for tackling this challenge – and the great news is they are actually getting on with it and talking about the fact that eventually, our time will come to an end.”
Surprisingly, the older generation is only slightly better prepared for the end than young people today, with 16% of over 65s saying they avoid talking about death because they haven’t thought about their final wishes, whereas one in five (20%) of 18-24s reveal they haven’t made a plan for their own send-off.
And both generations do have something in common; the main reason they give for not talking about death is that ‘the idea of death is scary’.
The research reveals the part technology might play in breaking down the taboo of death. More than half (51%) of 18-25-year-olds would consider discussing the subject via an online forum, with more than four in ten willing to use an app (44%) or Skype or FaceTime (41%).
Sam Owen is a relationship coach and psychologist who has worked with Pure Cremation on its Dead Good Report – a state-of-the-nation report which looks at attitudes to death and dying, and new funeral trends, such as the growth of direct cremation.
Sam Owen said: “We must all be completely honest with ourselves and others when it comes to the subject of death, not least because it is a natural part of life. I would urge people of all ages to talk about death. Make it as emotionally comfortable as possible; and use these conversations to give you perspective, motivation and energy – as reminder of the limited time we all have.
“Being open about death can prepare us for when a loved one passes, giving us resilience through the grieving process. Importantly, if you don’t have the big conversation with those close to you, you will miss out on learning what you can do to fulfil the final wishes of your loved ones when the time comes.”
To find out more information about Pure Cremation, please visit our website or call 0800 182 2163.