Which generation is the least likely to talk about death?
When it comes to talking about death, some age groups are better at it than others. A recent survey by Independent Age outlined that half of people aged between 40 and 64 – those known as the “sandwich generation” – said they didn’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about death, whereas nearly 60% of those 65 or over thinks it’s important to talk about death. Here we look at why there’s a generational gap and some solutions for starting the conversation.
Who are the sandwich generation?
The sandwich generation are those who may be caring for older parents alongside their own children. Increases in life expectancy and starting a family in later age means that this age group – usually around 40 to 64 – are tasked with attending to any problems that might crop up for these family members.
It’s this generation that are uncomfortable about talking to their parents about death, with almost half stating that they’d rather talk about almost anything else – including their weight, the amount they drink or personal money matters. That’s one hell of a dinner party.
The older generation are better at talking about death
On the other side of the spectrum, nearly half of the older people asked said it was one of the easiest topics to talk about. It turns out that older people are much more open to discussing death than their adult children – in the survey by Independent Age, 58% of over 65s said they think it’s important to open up about death.
Why is there such a difference in attitudes towards talking about death?
Why is it that people who have elderly parents, and are themselves getting on a bit, so reluctant to approach the subject? According to Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the younger generation don’t want to upset their parents. Bringing up their parents’ death feels a little too like putting pressure on them to actually get on with it and die.
But this simply isn’t the case – older people are far more likely to find it helpful to start this kind of conversation. Sharing final wishes doesn’t just mean heavy conversations on the nature of life, but also a sensible look at getting your affairs in order, what kind of financial issues need to be sorted out and, most importantly, how to make sure the final years are as good as they can be.
Start talking about death
Starting a conversation about death doesn’t have to be an immense task. Here’s a quick checklist to get you thinking practically about the death conversation with parents or even grandparents:
- Start a conversation by talking about funeral preferences. Use our free tool My Farewell Wishes and finally get talking about those plans you have for going out with a bang…
- Jot down any preferences they have for their medical treatment and care. Have they made an advance decision to refuse treatment or an advance statement, or would they like to make one?
- Do they want to appoint power of attorneys? Read our article here on the different types of attorney
- What are their funeral wishes, and anything else they would like to be done in their memory. Take a look at our Funeral Planning page to start just that.
- Whether they’ve taken out a pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance and where the details can be found. We’ve got an article for that too.
- Whether they’ve made a Will and where this is kept. Read our article on where to start when writing a Will.
- Where they would want to spend the end of their life. We’ve got articles on dying in a hospital, dying in a hospice and dying at home.
- Whether they are on the Organ Donor Register – read our article on organ donation here.
Find out more
At DEATH.io we want to get everyone prepared for their own death, and being a help when someone else dies.
Get your funeral preferences down in writing with our free tool, My Farewell Wishes – it only takes 3 minutes.
Take a look at our article on starting a conversation about death
We’ve also got an interesting look at the ways we talk about death.
Visit our planning pages to make sure you’re prepared for any conversations: