We Need To Talk About Death

October 24, 2018

Independent Age are urging people to take part in its We Need To Talk About Death campaign as research has found that one in three people are not speaking with family following arguments after a relative’s death.

End of life care (20%) and funeral arrangements (18%) are the biggest cause of rifts in families, according to this research, with almost a fifth (17%) of mourners admitting to experiencing a family feud over the death of a relative. Of these, just over two in five (42%) ended up not speaking for more than a year. Researchers also found that over a third (36%) are still in the middle of a family fallout.

The study found that the majority of conflicts are materialistic, with over a quarter (27%) of arguments being about money or a person’s estate.

Deathbed confessions and new relationships were cited as reasons for arguments, while disagreements over funerals proved to be a big trigger. According to the research, 19% of arguments were about who should and shouldn’t be invited to the funeral and 18% about differing opinions on arrangements such as dress code and the music played.

Almost a fifth (18%) of those who have experienced a family feud think arguments could have been avoided, if they had talked about final wishes with their relative before they died, says the research.

It revealed just over two in five (41%) of departed relatives hadn’t written down their final wishes, and additional research by Independent Age demonstrated that 46% of over-65s have specific requests for their funeral.

When it came to mourners’ remorse, almost half of people (48%) confessed to harbouring feelings of regret for not spending enough time with a loved one before they died, with a third (34%) of these admitting they would have liked to use this time to discuss their relative’s final wishes.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age said, 'So many arguments could be avoided by talking about and writing down your final wishes in advance. None of us wants to think that our friends and family would fall out over our death, in some cases irreparably.

'It’s understandable that many people struggle to talk about death and final wishes, as it’s an incredibly emotive topic and people don’t always know how to broach the subject, especially with an older relative. However, there are subtle ways to start the conversation, for example, if your favourite song is playing on the radio, you could tell your family you would have it at your funeral and ask what they would choose.'

Independent Age hopes to encourage more people to open up about death with it’s We Need To Talk About Death campaign, and has a range of advice and information available to help people start those difficult conversations and plan for the end of their life well in advance.

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