Television personality Debbie McGee has urged people to discuss their funeral wishes with loved ones, after a study revealed over four in five Britons have never discussed how they want to be remembered.
Findings from Co-op Funeralcare reveal that 81 per cent of people have never told loved ones what they want in their eulogy at their funeral. And, out of 2000 people surveyed, over two fifths were unsure what a eulogy – warm words and readings to commemorate someone who has died – actually is.
This has raised concerns over many people’s reluctance to plan ahead for end of life issues.
Debbie McGee, whose husband of 28 years, magician Paul Daniels, died in March last year, is encouraging people to discuss end of life matters with friends and family.
She said: “My own experience over the past year has really brought to light the importance of talking about death and how we shouldn’t see it as such a taboo topic. The Co-op’s study highlights the way loved ones can feel ‘lost for words’ at a time of bereavement and the ways in which discussing our wishes can help to prevent this.
Debbie McGee with her late husband, Paul Daniels. Photo by Rob Oldfield via Wikimedia Commons.
“When you experience the loss of a loved one you realise the true power of words, whether that’s through a eulogy or in the condolences from friends and family.”
A eulogy is a speech given at a funeral, usually paying tribute to the life of the person who has died. They often include life stories and personal milestones and a eulogy may also include funeral poems, or readings with special meaning.
“Eulogies play a huge role in making a ceremony personal, whether it’s a poem, a religious reading or memory of a life well lived,” said David Collingwood of Co-op Funeralcare.
“With over two fifths of people unable to define the term eulogy, it highlights how we struggle to talk about death with our loved ones but doing so makes it much easier for friends and family at what can be an incredibly difficult time.”
For many people in the funeral profession and working with the bereaved, it may come as little surprise that the British public aren’t used to discussing death, dying and bereavement.
“For many people, funerals are something that you don’t think about until the worst happens and you have no choice but to talk about it,” said Jessica Hanson of Funeral Guide.
“The fact that over half of Brits have never even considered their own eulogy is an illustration of how easy it is to be unprepared. However, there are real benefits to thinking ahead and making sure your loved ones know what you would want.
“Sharing memories and milestones that were important to you can be a wonderful way to reminisce and can open up more ‘taboo’ conversations about the end of life, while family and friends are still together. When the time comes, it could be a comfort for them to know that your funeral was how you would have wanted it.”
If you want to start thinking about important end of life decisions, find out how to start a conversation about death and ask your loved ones these 10 questions about death to start the discussion. Dying Matters also has information and resources to help you think about what you and your loved ones want to happen after you die.