Discussing death and funerals is still a taboo subject for many. It’s a topic of conversation we prefer to ignore and not think about. Even though we know that sorting out the necessary arrangements around our death and funeral in advance removes a lot of stress and hassle, we still don’t enjoy talking about it to our family. According to a study by the Funeral Planning Authority, only 37% of Brits over 40 have discussed their funeral plans with friends and family. It’s inevitable that we will all die someday, so why is this issue such a difficult subject for us to address? And how can we break the taboo?
Using humour can often help, a joke can be a good way to break the ice over awkward subjects and pave the way for further conversation. It’s important that death is discussed, as this will make the process much more comfortable for everyone. Finding a funeral director to take care of all the practicalities will also help.
By discussing your plans with your family, it helps to break through the taboo, after all, death is a subject that we should prepare for. It also helps with the grieving process later down the line. Death happens to us all, so we need to be mentally and physically prepared for the aftermath.
There is also an argument that teaching about death in schools will help banish the taboo. Should we introduce death to children early on in their lives? We live in a culture which celebrates youth, and talking about ageing and dying can feel uncomfortable. Introducing this topic and opening it up for discussion at a young age could help to prepare us as adults when we have to think about our own end of life care and funeral arrangements.
Our experiences with death are often from the medium of television. In films and TV, they depict death to be a lot scarier than it actually is. This can be quite traumatic and influences our feelings towards death from a young age. By discussing death in school, we can encourage healthy attitudes towards the subject and eliminate fear.
Social media is also playing an important role in making death less taboo, with young people openly discussing death on this platform. A support network set up in 2016 by a young woman who sadly lost her mother, has inspired many to speak about death. The site encourages people to talk openly about death, their feelings and experiences. Anyone can write on the website, and there is also an option to remain anonymous.
Slowly, the taboo surrounding death is starting to disappear as we become more open to discussions about dying. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, strike up a conversation and let’s help make death less taboo.
**Posted in collaboration with Debbie Fletcher**