Brits 'avoid coronavirus death conversations' with family and friends

12 May 2020, 08:25 | Updated: 12 May 2020, 08:27

File photo: Brits are avoiding discussing death and serious illness related to coronavirus
File photo: Brits are avoiding discussing death and serious illness related to coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Brits are avoiding discussing death and serious illness related to coronavirus, a new survey has found.

Over half of those questioned (56%) have not, and do not intend to, talk with family and friends about their end-of-life wishes should they fall critically ill with the virus.

Fewer than a quarter (23%) have had the conversation already, with 8% saying it is more difficult to talk about death in the context of the pandemic, according to the poll carried out for older people's charity Independent Age.

Over-65s were most likely to say nothing would stop them talking about death, with almost half (46%) agreeing, the charity said.

Chief executive Deborah Alsina said: "The lockdown period has been difficult for all of us, but for those who have suffered a bereavement it will have been even harder.

"Funeral plans may have had to change because of new restrictions, and it can be a lot harder to grieve when you're not able to be with the rest of your family.

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"Although coping with death and bereavement will always be difficult, no matter what, it can sometimes be made a little bit easier if we know what our loved one would have wanted, which can only be assured if we speak to each other."

Psychologist Corinne Sweet said: "Obviously, the future is unknown right now. We can hope for the best, but discussing the worst ahead of time is a good idea.

"You can share and process feelings together, and make practical plans. This is especially important in lockdown, where a funeral may have to be 'virtual'.

"Putting people's minds at rest about death can make things easier in the long run."

Some 2,000 adults aged 16 and over, including 1,042 over-65s, were surveyed by Censuswide between May 1 and 4 ahead of Dying Matters Awareness Week, which began on Monday.

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