Making peace with death

National attitudes to death and bereavement

In May this year we commissioned the biggest every survey of it's kind into death and bereavement and we asked the nation to take part.

With over 30,000 responses, this is the first time national attitudes towards death have been looked at on such a scale and the results show further action is needed to tackle the nation's last taboo. The findings show:

  • Almost 18 million of us are uncomfortable talking about death
  • Almost 5 million of us say we’re too uncomfortable to talk about our own death
  • Almost 13 million of us say we’re not comfortable, but would be willing to talk

It’s difficult to talk to others about but….

As a nation we do consider our own mortality, and the findings showed:

  • 91% of us have thought about our own mortality
  • 26 is the average age when we first think about our own mortality
  • A third of us think about our own mortality once a week or more

What makes us think about our own mortality?

The death of a family member is the top reason, with other top reasons including: reaching a milestone age, a medical diagnosis and news reports of death.

So while we may think and consider our own death, why can’t we talk about? Could it be our inability to talk about death is having a detrimental effect?

On average we first suffer a bereavement of someone close to us at aged 20. A sixth of those who had suffered a bereavement in the last 5 years said that after the death, nobody knew what to say or do.

How can you help someone who’s bereaved?

According to our research, here are the top 5 most helpful things you can do:

  1. Ask if they are ok
  2. Ask if you can do anything
  3. Be there and sit with them
  4. Ask if they want to talk about their loved one
  5. (If you can) give them time off work

And, here are the least helpful things you can do:

  1. Avoid the subject
  2. Assume their grief is the same as what you’ve experienced
  3. Avoid them
  4. Tell them to cheer up
  5. Treat them differently

 Carol McGiffin, Television Broadcaster, commented on our findings and said:-

"Death, dying and bereavement are unavoidable experiences that impact all of us, so it's incredibly eye-opening to see how many of us are still uncomfortable talking about it. Having experienced a life threatening illness myself, I now have a completely different perspective on mortality and have realised how important it is to come to terms with it.

It's so important that these conversations become more of a norm and that it doesn't take something drastic to trigger them. I'm sure that the work Co-op is doing and the findings of its survey will help to drive positive change." 

Find out more about our research findings in our broader report “Making Peace with Death

Read our News Release “Silence is deadly: Biggest ever survey sees 30,000 Brits tackle death taboo”


For further information contact

Sarah Pyatt

Press Officer

Co-op Funeralcare

Here to do right by you and right by your family