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Final wishes missed as half of loved ones admit to not being aware of dying and funeral requests

by | May 22, 2023

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Fears of final wishes not being carried out as loved ones say they weren’t aware of final requests, according to new research from MetLife UK’s upcoming The Last Word: Tackling the death and funeral planning taboo report. 

The study – which looked at the experiences, attitudes, and behaviours of those who have faced a bereavement and funeral planning in the last two years – found that half (51%) were not aware of any final wishes from the deceased, including funeral preferences, song choice and coffin type. 

With death being both an emotive and taboo subject, it’s one that people often simply avoid altogether, or don’t take the required steps to ensure loved ones are clear on their wishes. The study found that two in five (44%) UK adults haven’t spoken to anyone about dying or their funeral plans. 

Only a quarter (28%) say they knew practical choices for the funeral preference, such as burial or cremation, as well as coffin type. Just one in five (21%) knew how the funeral would be paid for, whilst the same number (21%) knew which poems, prayers, readings, songs and hymns the deceased wanted. Just 14% were aware of the style of wake and location, and the same number (14%) knew who to invite, leaving so much down to the grieving loved ones left behind to fill in the blanks. 


Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK said: “Losing someone close to us is something that none of us want to think about, let alone discuss, regardless of our age. Yet one thing we can be certain of in life is our death and the inevitable impact this will have on our families, so it’s important that we open up the conversation, tackling it head on so that we talk about it to help minimise the impact on those left behind. 

“We naturally take out insurance on events that may never happen, such as to protect our car, home or mobile phone, but we don’t talk about or plan for certainties that will, like death or funeral planning. So why is it we often ignore the emotional protection that could support our loved ones – by having the conversation about our wishes and thoughts, so that when the time comes, they can focus on grieving for their loss, not trying to contemplate how to best say goodbye. Tackling the conversation head on ensures peace of mind and that we don’t make an already emotional and stressful time more upsetting with the fear of not carrying out the final wishes of loved ones.   

“Our report shines a light on the support that people most value and need during what is an extremely difficult time. It uncovers the emotional rollercoaster that is the death of a loved one. Through our latest Group Life offering, we offer employees all over the country funeral support services so that we can help employees as they navigate, organise, and grieve at every stage of a bereavement.”

To help employees, MetLife offers funeral support services to more than 1.4 million UK employees, via its Group Life insurance arrangements. This follows a strategic partnership with international funeral planning and concierge service firm Everest Funeral Concierge.

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