Silence is deadly: stigma attached to 'the D-word' means Brits are missing out on a better death

30 Jul 2019

Whilst Brits know how they would spend their last days on earth, few are preparing for them, our new survey has revealed. As a result of this, we are calling on the nation to start talking about death.

Shocking results

We asked 2,000 people across the UK how they would spend their last day on earth.

Whilst almost 9 in 10 people (87%) knew what their last meal on earth would be, 68% have not written a Will and less than 10% have planned their funeral.

Over two thirds of people (67%) did not know that they can plan where they want to die and just 5% have made an Advance Care Plan, a document that outlines a statement of preferences for end of life care. 

Seven in ten (70%) hadn’t discussed their death with their loved ones, confirming that the stigma around 'the D-word' remains.

We are calling on the nation to start talking about death.

Almost three in five (59%) would want to spend their last day on earth in a familiar space, such as at home or place of worship, and 24% would head straight to the seaside. However, the reality is that their final days would likely take place in a hospital, a hospice or at home. 

According to the findings, 94% of Brits are clear on whom they would like to spend their final hours with and there were some key differences of opinions between men and women. 

Almost twice as many more women than men would choose to spend their last day on earth with a pet (24%) whilst twice the number of men than women would opt to spend the day alone (8%).

"Many of us plan for weddings and births, holidays and careers, yet we still shy away from planning for our death."

“We all need to start talking about the D-word," says our Chief Executive Heidi Travis. "Many of us plan for weddings and births, holidays and careers, yet we still shy away from planning for our death.

“Death is inevitable for each and every one of us, but the period of time following a diagnosis of a terminal illness can be short, as well as incredibly emotional; don’t leave it until then to start planning."

Share your wishes with loved ones

“It may be easier to think about our ‘bucket list’ or the songs we want played at our funeral, but by taking the time to think about whether we would prefer to die in a hospice or at home, writing a Will, setting up a lasting power of attorney or making an Advance Care Plan; it is possible to plan for a better death.

“We want to encourage everybody to talk about their plans with those close to them. Knowing what our wishes are and being able to support us in fulfilling them can bring great comfort to family and friends.”

How we can help you plan for a better death

Our useful Sue Ryder A Better Death guide can help you discuss dying and plan for the end of life that you want. 

It covers some of the difficult questions you may have, things you might want to think about, how to plan for the kind of death you want, and ways to get the conversation going.

About the survey

  • This survey was carried out by Censuswide on the behalf of Sue Ryder.
  • It surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,002 people. 
  • The work was carried out between 28th June 2019 and 1st July 2019.

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