Funeral costs triggering additional stress for grieving loved ones
October 12, 2023
- More than two in five (45%) of those who recently helped plan a funeral confirm they were stressed when it came to the cost, with almost one in five (18%) extremely stressed
- A quarter (25%) of people said they struggled to make decisions at the same time they were trying to grieve.
- When asked what would make the process easier, almost aquarter (23%) said knowing the deceased’s wishes would be followed.
16th October 2023: More than two in five (45%) of those who recently planned a funeral said they were stressed when it came to the cost, according to the latest research from chapter two of MetLife UK’s The Last Word: Tackling the death and funeral planning taboo report. Almost a fifth (18%) said they were extremely stressed.
The study - which looked at the experiences, attitudes, and behaviours of those who have faced a bereavement and funeral planning in the last two years - found that UK adults spent an average of almost £5,000 (£4,986.80) on a funeral for their loved ones, rising to more than £6,000 for 24% of respondents. Almost a quarter (23%) admitted that the cost was more expensive than they anticipated, and so one in ten (11%) had to alter funeral plans to keep costs down.
13% of respondents said they didn’t know how the funeral would be paid for. One in five (20%) said they and their partner covered the costs. Almost a third (31%) confirmed the
individual’s estate paid, and one in six (16%) said other family helped cover costs. 15% had a funeral policy, whilst 13% had a life insurance policy and just 7% has a workplace benefit
At what is already an emotional and difficult time, the research uncovered the additional stresses - and the impact - people faced when planning a funeral. Almost a third (31%) confirmed that general planning of the funeral added additional stress, whilst a quarter (25%) said they struggled to make decisions at the same time they were trying to grieve. Almost the same number (24%) said that funeral planning took up a huge amount of time.
When asked what would make the process easier, a quarter (23%) said knowing the deceased’s wishes, followed by having a better understanding of what needed to be arranged for a fifth (21%). Almost one in five (19%) said having a better understanding of the costs would have taken some of the stress away.
What would have eased some of the stress of funeral planning for bereaved UK adults?
1. Knowing what their loved ones wishes were - 23%
2. Having a better understanding of what needed to be arranged - 21%
3. Having a better understanding of costs - 19%
4. Having more support from loved ones - 18%
5. Having support to help understand the steps involved in planning a funeral - 18%
6. Getting free support available 365 days a year, 24/7 to help answer any queries - 17%
7. Having time to plan accordingly - 15%
8. Having more time off work to grieve - 15%
9. Knowing how the funeral was going to be paid - 14%
10. Having talked about this more openly with my family member/ friend - 13%
11. Having support from their employer / workplace benefits provider - 7%
12. Nothing could make it easier - 25%
Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK said: “At a time when you’re trying to come to terms with losing a loved one, the last thing you want to be worrying about is the cost of the funeral, particularly given the financial pressures the cost-of-living crisis is imposing on day-to-day spending.
“Although many of us try to avoid discussing death and funeral arrangements, it’s a conversation that really should happen as early as possible with our families, so their wishes are clearly outlined. Whilst a difficult conversation to start, it is so important to have a view on their wishes, because sadly you cannot ask them when they are no longer here. By opening up these conversations it could protect loved ones from additional stress and instead allow them more time and space to grieve.”
To help employees, MetLife offers funeral concierge support services, including will writing, to more than 1.4 million UK employees, via its Group Life insurance arrangements.
Source: Research carried out by Opinium in March 2023 sampling 2,000 adults who have experienced a bereavement in the last two years.