PRESS RELEASE: Beyond Belief

Religious Brits are most uncomfortable discussing death

Following the results of our Biggest Ever Survey into death, dying and bereavement, we can reveal the role religion plays when it comes to talking about, planning for and dealing with death.

How comfortable are different faiths with discussing death?

The survey, conducted among 30,000 Brits highlights that half (51%) of Hindus are uncomfortable discussing their own mortality, which is more than any other religious group.¹

This is closely followed by those of Muslim faith with half (49%) saying they are uncomfortable talking about their own death. Despite this, age 19 is when those of Muslim faith first thought about their own mortality, which is younger than any other religious group.

Christians on average said they didn’t think about their own demise until age 30, which is much later than most other religious groups.

Humanist Brits say they are most comfortable discussing their own death, with three quarters (75%) agreeing so and just one in ten (9%) explaining that they are unsure of how to talk about the topic with others.

Overall, those of a religious faith think about their own mortality later than Brits identifying as non-religious.

In terms of what is putting people off planning ahead, those of Jewish faith said their main concern was not wanting others to worry about them dying (30%).

For Brits of Hindu faith, the worry of upsetting people was the main reason they opt out of talking about their own death (29%) followed by not knowing how to talk about the subject (22%) and the fact that it’s ‘a long way off’ (15%).

While Christians also said they didn’t want people to worry about them dying (27%), over a tenth (14%) said they’re just too busy living to talk about it.

Muslim Brits’ main concern was the worry of upsetting people (21%), yet a fifth (18%) said they’ve never felt the need to talk about it and, a further fifth (17%) said they don’t talk to others about their own deaths because they are scared of dying.


Planning ahead

Despite this, people identifying as a religious group overall are more clued up about what they would want for their funeral, versus those who aren’t religious.

Brits of Jewish faith are most prepared for death with over a third (36%) knowing exactly what they would want for their own funeral, which is more than any other religious group.

Furthermore, those of Jewish faith are also more likely to plan financially for the inevitable, with a fifth (18%) having already put a funeral plan in place, which is twice as many as any other religious group.

When asked why this is the case, four fifths (59%) of Jewish respondents said their religion encouraged them to make plans for their funeral, compared to half (50%) of Muslims and almost a third (29%) of Hindus who said the same.

Overall, when it comes to planning financially for death, four fifths (84%) of non-religious people say they haven’t saved anything towards funeral costs, compared to three quarters (75%) of religious groups who say the same. 

The study also highlights how religion influences decisions when arranging a funeral. Religious respondents are more likely than non-religious respondents to want a traditional funeral, within a religious setting.

Half (49%) of Muslim respondents said they would want their funeral to include a religious service which is more so than any other religion.

David Collingwood, our Director of Funerals said:

“Whether we identify as part of a religious group or we don’t, death is something that is fearful for many people and is resulting in many not talking about it.

“We see the impact that not having those important conversations has on those left behind with families left wondering whether they should choose a cremation or a burial for their loved one.

“Our advice is to talk about it, even if it’s during your favourite soap character’s funeral. Broach those conversations to avoid loved ones feeling the burden later down the line.”

¹ Co-op’s biggest ever survey into death dying and bereavement was conducted by YouGov from 7th May to 25th June 2018 among over 30,000 UK adults. Further detail on the study can be found in Co-op’s media report

For further information contact

Sarah Pyatt

Press Officer