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Millions suffer financial hardship due to death of loved one

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

A fear of discussing death is leading to a lack of later life planning across the UK, with four million people experiencing financial hardship following someone’s death, a survey reveals.

The average cost of a funeral was £3,259, according to those who had arranged one recently.

But a poll by the Co-op found 81% have not saved a penny for a funeral and 41% haven’t planned financially for later life.

This leaves a big gap for families to cover when a bereavement occurs.

For the minority of people who have planned for later life, a quarter (25%) said their age was the reason for doing so, a further quarter (25%) said it was attending someone else’s funeral that made them consider their own mortality and for a fifth (21%) putting a will in place prompted them to think about other plans.

The funeral and later life planning firm conducted one of the largest surveys into death, dying and bereavement, attracting 30,000 responses.

The survey revealed that while 97% of UK adults have suffered a bereavement in their life, a representative 18 million are uncomfortable talking about death.

A quarter don’t want to talk about death for fear of making others worry. But women are revealed to think about their own mortality more frequently than men. And the older we get, the more comfortable we are talking about death.

But terrorism has made younger people think about death, with 22% of 16-29-year olds having thought of their mortality as a result. However, this age group are also more likely to bottle up their feelings. And when it comes to children – a quarter of adults experienced death when 10 or under – only 16% attended a funeral showing how parents take a sheltered approach to bereavement.

Robert MacLachlan, managing director of Co-op Funeralcare and life planning, said: “We see increasingly that a failure to properly deal with death has a knock-on impact for the bereaved, affecting mental health and also triggering financial hardship.

“It’s overwhelming that the survey led to 30,000 people sharing their views. Now that we have such a wealth of insight on what stops the nation engaging with death and bereavement, we can start to address these areas and work with others to drive genuine social change.”