Co-operatives in the UK have been encouraging people to have ‘The Big Conversation’ about all the little things that make a funeral special.
The Big Conversation was the theme of the 2016 Dying Matters Awareness Week (9-15 May), after research found 73% of British people never discuss their funeral wishes.
Talking about dying won’t make it happen. It’s about making a challenging conversation easier
East of England Co-operative’s Funeral Services, Central England Co-operative Funeralcare, Southern Co-operative Funeralcare and the Group’s Funeralcare division are among those supporting the campaign.
“Talking about dying won’t make it happen. It’s about making a challenging conversation easier,” said Andrew Dawes, East of England’s head of Funeral Services.
“Family and friends often draw comfort by being able to take part in a funeral service and we hope that people become more comfortable planning ahead and discussing this, often considered taboo, subject. Talking about the little things can make the conversation less scary and it’s often these moments that really count when making a funeral special.”
While funerals have traditionally been solemn, East of England Co-op Funeral Services has seen an increase in ‘celebrations of life’ as a way for friends and family to say their final farewells to a loved one, which take into account people’s passions, interests and hobbies.
To mark the week, Central England Co-operative hosted 42 events at its funeral homes, crematorium, local hospitals and community centres to encourage people to talk freely about dying.
Head of Funerals, Kevin Crute, said: “Funerals are increasingly becoming a celebration of life and every life is different.
“At Central England, we are passionate about enhancing memories and love for our families and by hosting 42 Dying Matters events, we have been able to talk to local communities about bereavement, the importance of funeral planning and how families can create a truly unique service.”
The Dying Matters Coalition, which runs the annual Awareness Week, was set up by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) in 2009. It aims to encourage people to talk about their own end of life issues with friends, family and loved ones in order to make ‘a good death’ possible for the 500,000 people who die in England each year.
“Talking about dying, death and bereavement is in everyone’s interests,” said Claire Henry, chief executive of the Dying Matters Coalition and the NCPC.
“It can help ensure that all of us can get the care and support we want, where we want it, at the end of our lives.”