Two-fifths ‘have gone into debt to pay for a funeral’

Research comes amid worsening cost of living crisis

Richard Jenkins
Thursday 24 November 2022 08:23 GMT
<p>Many people say they’ve been unable to grieve properly due to stress of arranging funeral</p>

Many people say they’ve been unable to grieve properly due to stress of arranging funeral

Forty-three per cent of grieving adults have gone into debt or experienced financial hardship after paying towards a loved ones’ funeral.

A study of 500 adults who have contributed financially towards a funeral within the last two years found 62 per cent felt they were unable to properly grieve because of the stress the cost of the send-off had caused.

On average, those polled contributed £1,797.40 of their own money towards the cost of a funeral.

Among those who have experienced financial hardship, the cost of the send-off caused £1,951.90 of debt.

This had a significant impact on their mental health, leaving people feeling stressed (50 per cent), anxious (45 per cent) and embarrassed (36 per cent).

Dan Garrett, CEO of direct cremation funeral provider Farewill, which commissioned the research, said: “The cost of living crisis is fuelling a cost of dying emergency.

“Grieving families all over the UK are having the stress of losing someone they love compounded by the devastating hardship of funeral poverty.

“Alongside steep hikes in supermarket prices and higher mortgage rates, it’s now far more likely that a death in the family could push grieving families into poverty as they struggle to cover the funeral bill.

“Having an affordable option such as direct cremation allows families the option to celebrate their loved one’s life in a way that feels right for them and the chance to grieve without the added pressure of costly traditions.

“With 85 per cent of those polled worried about the impact the economic crisis could have on their ability to pay for a funeral in the future, it’s not surprising direct cremation is increasing in popularity.”

Since 2004, funeral costs have risen by 121 per cent, with the average basic funeral last year costing £4,056 without the inclusion of traditional flowers, cars and catering, according to data from Sun Life.

Last year, 18 per cent of families opted for a direct cremation - a cremation without the traditional service at a crematorium - up from three per cent in 2019.

Farewill’s research, carried out via OnePoll, found a staggering 85 per cent of people felt pressure to provide a traditional funeral service with things like flowers, cars and catering - even though it meant they experienced financial hardship.

In fact, 68 per cent received monetary assistance from friends or family towards the funeral cost.

The most common help received included a financial gift (62 per cent), interest-free borrowing (29 per cent) and a loan with interest (12 per cent).

Sadly, 47 per cent sold a sentimental item given to them by a loved one to go towards the cost of a funeral, the most common of which was jewellery (34 per cent), a watch (19 per cent) and ornaments (18 per cent).

The study also revealed the least well-off are having to make difficult decisions to cover funeral costs.

More than half (56 per cent) of the poorest in society are buying cheaper food, compared to 31 per cent in the highest socio-economic banding.

While 33 per cent were buying less food, compared to just 24 per cent of the highest banding.

Other difficult decisions facing people to help cover funeral bills include cutting back on electricity use (24 per cent) and not putting on the heating (21 per cent).

Dan Garrett, from Farewill, added: “The survey highlights how the burden of meeting rising traditional funeral bills impact our financial and emotional wellbeing.

“Direct cremation offers the freedom to give a loved one a simple, affordable send-off without the crippling costs associated with traditional funerals.”

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