The death ‘to do’ list: Britons want to sort out practical matters and tick off ‘bucket list’ items

May 13, 2019

Over half (56%) of British adults would focus on getting their financial and practical matters in order if they knew they had just 12 months to live, according to a new survey for Dying Matters by ComRes. Nearly as many (54%) would want to take a trip or experience something they have always wanted to do. 

About one third of people (33%) say they would revisit people or places they had not seen in a long time, while 31% say they would plan where they’d like to spend their final days and how to make that happen.  18-34-year-olds are more likely than the over-55s to want to take a trip or have an experience they’ve always wanted to do (64% v 46%). People were least interested in preserving their digital legacy and making spiritual or religious preparations (7% and 6% respectively). 

The survey also found that 68% of British adults say that they would like to leave behind happy memories for family or friends after they die, against only 31% who say they would like to leave financially valuable possessions or 10% who say they would like to leave a donation to a charity.

Dying Matters Awareness Week runs from May 13-19, and there will be hundreds of local events taking place across England, all of them encouraging people to talk or ask questions about death, grief, wills, funerals and more. The events range from death cafes and a competition to design your own coffin to art exhibitions, theatre performances and celebrating life. 
Dying Matters, which is run by hospice and palliative care charity Hospice UK, brings together a broad coalition of individuals and organisations including solicitors, funeral directors, hospices and hospitals, grief counsellors and palliative care specialists.  

Selected events from the week include: 
• The Departure Lounge – a ‘Travel Agent’ for our final journey at Lewisham Shopping Centre, organised by the Academy of Medical Sciences. Running throughout May. 
• York Dead Good Festival – 10 days of plays, arts and discussions about death. May 10-19.
• American actress Paige Barr brings her acclaimed show “Death, Dating and I Do” to London for three performances, in a double bill with Fascinating Aidas’s Adele Anderson. 
• Finding a Language – a panel discussion about the language people use when talking about death, and how people approach it differently. Introduced by Phillip Selway from Radiohead. Oxford, May 15. 
• Design Your Own Coffin competition – a nationwide competition allowing people to design their own coffin. Closing date Sunday May 26. 

Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK, said:

“It says so much that, when faced with death, many people want to both be practical but also to get the most out of life by doing something from their ‘bucket list’. You don’t have to wait until you know you are dying to get your affairs in order: if you do it now there’s more time for those special experiences.

“This year’s Dying Matters theme is Are We Ready, and this survey tells us just what people think they need to do to be ready to face their own deaths. We’re all different, and each of us will respond to death in our own way. What matters is that we are able to talk to each other about it, and to offer what help we can to people coping with death or grief.”

A map of registered Dying Matters event is here.

Notes to editor

  • About Dying Matters
    Dying Matters is a national campaign that started in 2010. Each year hundreds of events take place as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week, which this year runs from May 13-19 with the theme of “Are We Ready?” The campaign aims to encourage people to become more comfortable talking about death and grief, and to sort out the practical issues about their own death: funeral plans, wills, organ donation, and end of life care. Above all, it wants people to discuss and share these plans so that the right information is available at the right time. 
    For more information, see www.dyingmatters.org
  • ComRes interviewed 2,025 British adults aged 18+ online from 12th and 14th April 2019. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of Great British adults by age, gender, region and social grade. Data tables can be found here

 

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