Afterthoughts

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DYING TO BE HEARD

It’s Dying Matters Awareness week and this year the theme is ‘Dying To Be Heard’ – a focus on how people respond when someone wants to discuss death, or grief, their Will or their funeral plans. These have always been difficult conversations, but – by putting the spotlight on end-of-life planning as a natural part of everyday financial planning – we are determined to make them less emotionally painful, if not easier.

End-of-life planning is all part of ‘dying matters’, and the more we do talk about our own plans, the more our friends and family are better-prepared when the time comes.

DON’T TALK LIKE THAT…

That is a common reaction to any conversations about end-of-life planning, particularly. But is there anything more sensible than getting a friend’s opinion on a significant purchase? Could there be anything more helpful, than putting plans in place to help your family – when you can’t?

And, although it may feel uncomfortable to think about your own demise if you’re young and healthy, the reality is that many older people in particular welcome the opportunity to talk about their death, openly. With friends, and with family.

As we age, our focus changes. We do become more aware of our mortality; we start to think about practical things – like whether we’d prefer to be cremated or buried, and how does that happen? And what’s involved in organising that?

LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS…

The onset of coronavirus has little to do with the need to stimulate these conversations. Although the focus, sadly, on tragic recent events has put the spotlight on the lack of planning and cohesion across our industry: there has been no government-directed guidance to advise our nation’s funeral directors on the right protocols for helping grieving families through a no-contact pandemic. Does such a thing exist? Perhaps it should, from here-on in.

For now, we, along with our peers, are doing everything we can to ensure people feel comfortable, when they’re talking about dying. Along with most of our peers, we have well-trained, empathetic, pragmatic, and friendly teams who can explain our products work over the phone or face-to-face.

Like any financial service provider, we want to be sure the benefits of a product you don’t need ‘until something goes wrong’, is very definitely being sold the right way, to the right people, for the right reasons. And the only way to do that, is to talk about what you want – what you need – and what you would prefer, when it comes to your own time of need.

THE CONVERSATION HAS STARTED…

As you might expect, we want to provide a responsive, empathetic service – answering people’s questions when they’re looking for answers. Recently, we’ve seen Google searches for the word “funeral” spike, going up as high as 74,000 searches in April compared with 22,000 a year ago.

Our research shows more people than ever are keen on discussing their end of life arrangements, with around 80% saying they would welcome a more open discussion on the subject. Talking about dying isn’t something we do every day. But most of us are dying to be heard, when it comes to discussing the things that matter most in our end-of-life planning.