A MAJOR study into funerals has revealed a shift in the nation’s attitude to death with Brits more open than ever to talking about their end-of-life wishes.

Co-op Funeralcare, has been tracking attitudes into death for more than a decade.

New research in the ‘My Wishes, My Way’ report, which polled Brits who intend to have a funeral reveals that over a third (37 per cent) feel that funerals are generally too sombre and should be more uplifting. 

An estimated 35 million adults state they want their funeral to be a celebration, compared to an estimated 20 million who expressed this wish in 2019.

The survey conducted by YouGov conveys a post-pandemic effect on how we view funerals, with over three-quarters (76 per cent) of those polled in the North East stating they now feel comfortable talking about their funeral wishes.

Julie Swales, daughter of Zac Swales, 85, from Skelton-in-Cleveland who passed away in June, said: “My father, Zac, had his own van as he used to help out my brother who owns a block paving company. Dad always used to say that he didn’t want a lot of fuss made over his funeral.

"After his passing, we were discussing hearses and we jokingly said to the funeral team ‘Why don’t we put him on the back of his van?’ We got a bit of a shock when Gavin, our funeral arranger, said ‘Well, why don’t you?’

"Gavin and his team worked hard to make it happen and my brother arranged for a painted wooden sign which said ‘There goes Zac’ to adorn the back of the van. Seeing my father embarking on his final journey, on the back of his beloved van, was the ultimate tribute to the man he was.

"He was very down-to-earth and didn’t want a lot of fanfare. It embodied his spirit in the best possible way and we couldn’t have wished for a more fitting send-off.

"We are so proud that we were able to carry out his final wishes in this way.”

Co-op Funeralcare’s Managing Director, Samantha Tyrer said: “As we’ve lived through the pandemic and seen such a tragic and unimaginable loss of life, the nation’s attitude towards death and dying has been changing. It’s incredibly poignant that society is gradually becoming more comfortable talking about the inevitable and that more people would like their final farewell to feel more like a unique celebration of their life.  

“The passing of a loved one is heart-breaking for families and friends but making our wishes known can offer reassurance and comfort when the time comes. At Co-op Funeralcare, we’re encouraging people to talk to their loved ones about their end of life wishes in order to break down the taboos around death and dying and to ensure we give our loved ones the final unique send-off that they would want.”

Co-op Funeralcare’s research also shows that greater levels of personalisation is appealing to more people in the North East who wish to have a unique and meaningful funeral, their way. 

In January a community joined together for the funeral of Tony Carr who died aged 88.

Mr Carr was driven to All Saints Church, in Wheatley Hill, in style with his coffin attached to his forklift truck driven by his son, Jeremy.

READ MORE: Wheatley Hill scouting stalwart gets final farewell from forklift

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