Having the conversation

A blog post from David Collingwood, our Director of Funerals

One of the most difficult things for us to face up to in life, is the prospect of our own mortality, let alone having to discuss it with others. 

As a funeral director, I’ve sat down with many families who were utterly rudderless when faced with organising a funeral of a loved one, where the subject had never been discussed at all. Without even knowledge of a person’s preference for burial or cremation. Every single stage of the funeral arrangements can cause anxiety for the family “Are we making the right choices..?”, “What would he have wanted..?”, “What will the rest of the family say..?” 

Our last send-off arranged with fingers crossed. That can’t be right?

It’s understandable. We are British – we don’t talk about things like that, we just brush the matter under the carpet and change the subject. It’s time we toughened up, and broke out of the cotton wool that we allow ourselves to hide in when we approach the subject that none of us can avoid. The fact is we will all die, and as such we will need some sort of funeral - large, small, simple or grand. Don’t leave it to someone else to decide.

How to bring the subject up without your family choking on their coffee?

Sometimes funerals on soaps, TV dramas or the news provide an opportunity to chat, even if it’s just an indication from you of your preference for burial or cremation. You don’t have to go into the finer details if you feel uncomfortable, but talking about your funeral doesn’t hasten it. 

Many people are now pre-arranging their funerals, ensuring their wishes are down on paper, with as much or as little detail noted down as they want. No hard decisions for your family to make when the time comes, and with the right plan, all of the costs covered including third party fees. Just think – nothing more for your family to pay and all your wishes noted down.

To help us play our part in tackling exactly what it is that stops people from talking about death, dying and bereavement, we've launched the biggest ever survey into these important topics, and you can get involved at coop.co.uk/survey.

A personal insight

I know you may think it’s easy for me to talk about this, it’s my profession after all. Let me give you a bit of personal insight. I’m writing this today, 24 hours after my mother-in-law, Brenda, died following a very serious stroke just three days ago. Death comes as a shock to us all, no matter how experienced we feel we may be. 

The positive to this devastating event for us? 11 years ago Brenda had the insight to pre-arrange and pay for her funeral. Consequently, we as a family know exactly what her final wishes are and can take comfort in knowing we are doing right by her in making it happen.

If you do nothing more in Dying Matters week please be brave and have the conversation. I can tell you from my own personal experience, it’s a massive gift you can give to those left behind.​


If you'd like to start talking to your loved ones but don't know how to get started, read our top tips here.

Find out more about our funeral plans.

For further information contact

Claire Newmarch

PR Assistant