We need to talk about dying

09 May 2016

A recent report has highlighted how a societal aversion to talking about death has left hundreds of thousands of people with a long-term shortfall in income and financial security.

We need to talk about dying

Why do we find it so difficult to face the inevitable?

Royal London's 'Losing a Partner' report revealed last month that 69% of people who had lost a partner felt unprepared either financially or practically1. Perhaps even more startling was the finding that nearly 40% of people who had lost a partner suffered a long-term fall in income.

No one wants to face the idea that his or her time on this world is limited - in many cases because of an innate human fear of the unknown. Therefore, it is often those with an unshakeable belief in an afterlife who are most comfortable with the idea of their own mortality. But with the growing popularity of pre-paid funeral plans, in a time of widespread financial uncertainty, talking about one’s own death goes beyond personal fear. Instead, it represents selflessness in ensuring family members are not left with a huge bill or difficult decisions to make in the event of a death.

Last year, Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters Coalition told The Independent: “We need to change the nation’s approach to dying, so that all of us become better at making our end of life wishes known and asking our loved ones about theirs.

“Talking about dying and planning ahead may not be easy, but it can help us to make the most of life and spare our loved ones from making difficult decisions on our behalf or dealing with the fallout if we haven’t got our affairs in order.”

Another benefit of talking about the inevitable is that it allows us to make arrangements and specify wishes in advance. By taking the time to have this difficult conversation, we can put arrangements in place and never need to think about them again. This provides peace of mind, enabling us to enjoy life all the more without having to worry about what will happen after death.

While bringing up the concept of one’s own funeral may be temporarily upsetting, saying nothing could be many times worse in the long run.

1. Royal London, Losing a partner – the financial and practical consequences - Part 2, 2016.