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Sharing my final wishes with my loved ones

Thinking and talking about our own death can be hard. Many of us will be concerned about upsetting loved ones or ourselves. It may help us feel some sense of control if we think now about how we’d like things to be after we’re gone.

Perhaps more importantly, it might ease the pressure on our family when that difficult time comes. This guide provides an overview of how to approach the subject with loved ones, and things you may like to consider.

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Tips for talking about your funeral wishes:

The ideal time to talk to your family about death is while you are still in good health. The conversation is likely to be less emotionally charged and more positive if you are well and enjoying life. However, even if you are in poor health, it is never too late. Many people who are approaching the end of their lives are relieved to have the opportunity to think and talk about what will happen to them when they die.

We recommend you:

  • Plan what you want to say and try to be clear about your wishes in advance. Think about what your funeral means to you. You may not be able to control what happens, but you can influence some aspects of it.

  • Choose a time when you can gather the people you want together and have a period of un-interrupted time without distractions.

  • Consider whether you will approach the subject directly or indirectly. This will depend on how you think your loved ones will respond.

    A direct approach may include calling a ‘family meeting’ and letting them know in advance what you want to discuss so that they have time to prepare themselves.

    A more indirect approach may be to drop the subject into a conversation, perhaps by referring to the funeral of someone else who has died.

  • Reassure your loved ones that you don’t want to upset them but also don’t want them to be burdened with having to make difficult decisions about your funeral without knowing what you would want.
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The type of funeral you want

There are quite a lot of things to think about when somebody dies, from the type of funeral to the choice of casket, music and more. These decisions can cause additional stress for grieving families, as they have to decide on everything that you may want.

A ‘good send-off’ is important in most cultures. Even if you don’t have particularly strong feelings about what happens to you after your death, it may be worth considering your options and giving some guidance to your loved ones, if only to prevent the additional pressure on them at a difficult time.

Funeral costs

The cost of dying has been rising year on year since 2004, with the average cost of a funeral in 2020 being £4,184*.

Cremation funerals usually cost less than a burial however, this can differ depending on your location, type of funeral you choose, funeral director’s fees, as well other factors. You should think about everything you want and what is financially viable for those left behind.

Find out more about funeral costs in the UK 

*Source: SunLife (2021), Cost of Dying Report,

Dignity Funeral costs

Writing a will

A will gives your loved ones instructions on what to do when you die in regards to your ‘estate’, which is includes possessions, property and money left behind. This can also encompass what happens to any children under the age of 18. By creating a will, it can make things easier for your family.

A will is important if you’d like to pass on your estate to people outside of your immediate family or give to charity.

Once you have written your will, there are several places where it can be stored, i.e.:

You will have to choose an executor, this is someone you trust to carry out your wishes. You should let your executor know where the will is being kept. 

At Dignity, we provide you with access to a legal services helpline provided by Hugh James. It gives you 3 months’ free legal advice and practical support on matters you are facing now and may face in the future.

Find out more about our Probate Services offered by Hugh James

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Remember to create memories

Once you have shared your final wishes, you may want to think about creating a wish list - this is a list of things you’d like to achieve or do during your lifetime. This can be your choice, whether it is to visit a special place or learn a new skill.

You may wish to create special memories with your loved ones too, be it through family holidays or joint activities and adventures you'll all remember for years to come.

Commemorating your life

Once you’ve told your loved ones what you want at your funeral, you may want to think about how you want to be remembered after. This may include, where you’d like your ashes to be kept or scattered, if you’re going to be cremated.

Create memories | Dignity

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