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More than half of us do not know the dying wishes of our nearest and dearest

Published on 20 September 2017 11:01 PM

A new survey from Malnutrition Task Force and Age UK highlights that having conversations around dying and death is still very much a taboo subject and avoided by many people.

In response, both organisations have produced a new book and film to help people explore and approach this subject.

An uncomfortable subject

The research reveals that over a third of people aren't comfortable bringing up the subject with a relative or close friend and two in five people admit they do not know their loved ones' wishes around dying, such as what their preferred type of burial would be.

Barriers to speaking openly

The poll of over 2,000 people found there are a number of barriers preventing people speaking openly about death, such as:

  • 50% said they would be worried about upsetting the other person
  • 30% said they would be worried it would offend the other person
  • 25% would simply not know how to bring up the subject
  • 22% said it would make them feel too upset
  • 20% don't think they would be able to find the right time and place to have the conversation
  • 19% said it isn't something they would want to think about at all

Resources available to support conversations

Lesley Carter, Programme Head of Malnutrition Taskforce and Head of Health Influencing at Age UK said: 'We know that having the confidence to start a conversation about dying and death is very hard, we struggle to find the right time, the right words and we are terrified of upsetting the other person and ourselves.

'We have written this bright well-illustrated book and film that can be used to explore this issue with children, adults and professionals. We've explained why it is important to talk about dying and death, given ideas of how you could start a conversation, what you may want to say. Obviously, we are all different, you will find your own words. We hope that these resources will give you the confidence to give it a go.'

The work was funded by the Department of Health as part of their Strategic Partners Programme.

Let's talk about dying booklet

This book is designed to start conversations to help everyone to feel empowered and positive to talk about death.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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