A new study from Farewill has found that, of the 55% of Londoners who say that the COVID-19 crisis has made them talk more openly about death, a third (33%) admit it’s because they realised they should be more prepared for it.
This is one of the highest proportions in the UK, second only to respondents living in Yorkshire (35%).
Nearly three quarters (74%) of Londoners said that seeing daily death tolls in the news prompted their open conversations about death with loved ones, whilst 40% said they themselves felt scared about dying from the virus, 12% higher than the national average.
And as society unlocks on ‘Freedom Day’, many will re-enter normal life with a new state of mind. Over half (61%) of Londoners agreed that the pandemic has made realise people can die suddenly.
Adults living in the capital are the most worried when it comes to funeral costs, with half (50%) saying they are worried about not being able to afford the service when they die. 63% are worried how their loved ones will cope emotionally and financially when they’re gone.
Two thirds (66%) say they do not want a traditional funeral service at all, which typically includes a hearse, hymns and prayers, instead preferring a more personalised service with modern elements, such as a bright dress code or livestream of the service – the latter becoming extremely popular during the pandemic when gatherings were not permitted.
The same number want it to feel more like a celebration of life (40%), whilst 38% are concerned about the impact on the environment. 37% want a direct cremation, which involves no ceremony, service or attendees.
Dan Garrett, CEO of Farewill, comments: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we view death. For too long, we’ve defaulted to the Victorian approach and kept a stiff upper lip, but the research shows that it’s becoming less of a taboo subject. This is partly because we’ve suddenly had to face the realities of death in a very immediate, confronting way, with daily death news bulletins and Covid dominating the headlines.
It can be a difficult subject, but reluctance to discuss it is why many people end up with a funeral that doesn’t represent who they are. What’s more, if Londoners, or anyone else, are worried about funeral costs, it’s important for them to know what options are available to them – a direct cremation for example, is much cheaper than organising a traditional funeral, but some people aren’t aware of that.
We’d suggest that anyone – no matter their age – has a think about what they want, and discusses it with friends or family. It can be one of the most meaningful conversations a person can have.”