Is it self-indulgent, or is it just practical? It doesn’t matter – it’s normal
You could say it’s the epitome of self-obsession, imagining how loved ones would celebrate your life. Or you could see it as a serious inability to let go of things out of your control. It might even be just an inescapable thought that accompanies the fear of death. Whatever the reason there is now no need to worry that it’s weird – having thought about your own funeral is the norm in Britain.
66% of British people admit to having thought about their own funeral, and slightly more women (71%) than men (61%).
It is certainly something that receives more attention with the onset of age – fully 81% of over-60s have thought about it. But even the majority of the youngest generation have had the thought (54% have, 41% have not), suggesting this is one of the most human ideas to entertain.
Among all age groups, the music is the top aspect of a funeral that people have thought about (62%). But while the second most likely thing older people have thought about is the practical side – the coffin or urn – 18-24s are more likely to have thought about the reaction of the people attending (54%).
Cremation (51%) is far more popular than burial (18%) overall when people are asked what they’d like to happen to them when they die, but among young people there is a more even split, with 28% saying they’d like to be cremated, 25% choosing burial and 15% preferring to be donated to medical science.
Overall, only 2% of the British public say they’d like to undergo cryonic preservation, the method of freezing bodies with the vague hope or reanimation once the technology is developed in the future. Although sci-fi sounding, the service is actually available and the rich and famous have been popular clients.
The most popular location for those who want a burial is in a graveyard next to friends and family (59%), while 13% say they’d like the natural option of a field or woodland and 1% say they’d like to be buried at home. 0% said they’d like a sea burial.
A 2013 report found that burial space in England could reach full capacity within the next 20 years, as cemetery experts warned of a looming crisis and called for a change in law to allow graves that are more than 75 years old to be reused. In China, demand for grave plots has outstripped supply to such an extent (there are only 3,000 cemeteries, compared to the US’s 50,000) that prices can go as high as $32,700. The Chinese government has even started subsidizing sea burials to compensate.