Fear of talking leaves a legacy of feuds

Published: 05/06/2014

Our reluctance to talk about death will cost our loved ones much more than a few moments of discomfort, according to the Dying Matters Coalition.

Set up by the National Council for Palliative Care in 2009, Dying Matters is trying to break this great British taboo and make people more comfortable talking about death, enough to then make a Will and protect their loved ones both financially and emotionally.

In a survey of 2000 people a staggering 83 per cent of us are uncomfortable discussing death. Only a third has written a Will while half of us do not know the end-of-life wishes of our partner. As a result one in every three people surveyed had experienced a family fallout over someone’s death, the majority of which was about money.

Joe Levenson is the Director of Communications at the Dying Matters Coalition:

“Talking about dying and death is one of the last taboos in Britain. I guess we’re not very comfortable facing up to our own mortality.

“It’s very different to 100 years ago where there were far higher rates of infant mortality – people were dying before their time. It’s great that people, on the whole, are living to a healthy age. The downside of that is we’ve lost our ability to talk about dying.

“Dying now tends to happen behind closed doors, very often in hospitals, and that combined with the very British stiff upper lip make it really difficult for us to talk about dying and to come to terms with bereavement.

“Not writing a Will can cause enormous problems. If people aren’t making their wishes known, not only will they not be able to have their final days, weeks or months as they would want but they are storing up problems for those close to them after they’ve died. The legacy of that can last for years.”

Content correct at time of publication

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