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How to Discuss Dying

Research shows that:

  • Only 1% of people know their loved one’s funeral preferences.
  • Just 40% know if their loved one would prefer a religious ceremony – or not.
  • Half of us don’t know if our loved one would prefer a burial or a cremation.


These are worrying facts.

For many of us, talking about death and funerals is difficult. However, knowing that someone understands our wishes for when we die can be comforting. It also helps the people who will be making the necessary arrangements as organising the details is easier.

Here are our top tips for opening the difficult topic of dying, and what to discuss:

Starting the conversation

  1. Choose a relaxed, informal setting, such at home with a cup of tea.
  2. Start at the beginning, with basic details such as whether you’d prefer a funeral or a cremation.
  3. Gather everyone together, so that you need to have one conversation rather than several. It also ensures that all those involved understand your wishes in the same way, and hear any questions at the same time.
  4. Avoid ambushing your loved ones by letting them know what you want to talk about ahead of the discussion. This gives them time to prepare and think of any questions.
  5. Above all, be prepared, open and honest.


Details to consider

The key wishes to start with are:

  • Would you prefer a burial or a cremation? 
  • Should your funeral be religious, or non- religious?
  • Would you like to have a wake?

Then, the finer details can be discussed, such as:

  • Do you have specific music, readings, stories or themes that you would like as part of your funeral?
  • Do you have a preference about the location of your funeral service and/or wake?
  • If you opt for a cremation, where would you like your ashes to be scattered or buried?
fear of funerals guide

We should all think of our will, funeral and how we would like to be remembered. It’s essential, although sometimes uncomfortable, to talk through these details. It’s a time to be open and honest as well as sensitive. 

Once you’ve started the conversation, you may find that discussing dying is easier than you think. Overall, it’s reassuring to know that your loved ones understand your wishes. Have you told anyone how you would like to be remembered?