Don't wait 'til the end to think about the end

Report: 70 per cent of Australians don't plan for end-of-life

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BE PREPARED: An alarming number of Australians are not making end-of-life plans.

BE PREPARED: An alarming number of Australians are not making end-of-life plans.

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There are six categories of people when it comes to end-of-life planning. Which one is you?

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NOT taken the time to plan a funeral service for you or a loved one? You're not alone.

In a survey conducted by Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW, more than 70 per cent of participants said they were not inclined to plan ahead.

The report and an accompanying information toolkit have been released to raise awareness about end-of-life planning as part of the Dying to Know Day campaign.

Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW chairman Stepan Kerkyasharian said only around 29 per cent of those surveyed said they had prepared for funerals.

"Many were apprehensive or in denial about death and not comfortable talking about dying, have not thought about their funeral, and have never had to plan one for a relative," he said.

Mr Kerkyasharian said having to make arrangements when someone died or was ill and close to death put a great deal of emotional and financial strain on families.

The research identified six categories of people when it comes to preparing for end-of-life:

Pragmatic and Prepared: About 14 per cent were comfortable talking about death and dying, had planned a funeral, or discussed their wishes with family or friends. These people did not want any religious elements in their funeral.

Religion is Important: About 15 per cent indicated a strong preference for a religious and traditional funeral. This group was comfortable talking about death, intended to plan ahead and viewed funeral ceremonies as an important way to remember loved ones.

Not a Priority Right Now: About 13 per cent found it difficult to acknowledge mortality, placed a high importance on family and worried about the financial burden planning a funeral would place on them. Members of this group also had strong support for cemetery land use, a strong environmental focus and were supportive of alternative methods of burial or cremation. Most had not been involved planning a funeral before.

Uninitiated: About 16 per cent found it difficult to talk about death and had not thought about what their funeral would look like. A number of respondents from this group said their families had a strong influence on their plans and most had never been involved with planning a funeral.

Apprehensive or in Denial: Around 28 per cent said they were uncomfortable talking about death or thinking about mortality, had not thought about burial or cremation and most had never helped plan a funeral.

Easy Going Progressives: About 15 per cent were comfortable talking about death and dying, but had little preference to what happened to their body. This group tended to have not engaged in planning and had a strong environmental focus.

More than 1100 NSW residents took part in the online survey.

The research also included interviews and workshops with state and local government stakeholders, cemetery, crematoria and funeral providers, faith representatives and consumer advocates.

"More than 50,000 people die in NSW each year so we need to normalise conversations about after-death arrangements," Mr Kerkyasharian said.

To read the full report or access the online tool kit click here.

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