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Breaking Down The Taboos Of Death

Helen Wathall, managing director and fifth generation of Wathall’s funeral directors, discusses the importance of later and end of life planning and discussing your funeral wishes with loved ones.

One of the biggest taboos to discuss during our lives is death and the pandemic has heightened this further as families are even more fearful of upsetting older relatives especially when they are unable to have conversations face to face.

Although death can be an uncomfortable subject – discussing and, more importantly, planning and making provision for our end of life, funeral and what happens to our estate when we die is vital to ensure our wishes are met.

I know from personal experience just how important it is to have those conversations.

In 1995 my father Bill Wathall passed away aged just 62 years.  He had spent over 40 years as a Funeral Director – advising families about their loved ones’ funerals and giving hundreds of talks to local groups about the importance of making funeral wishes known.

However, when he passed away we discovered that the subject of his funeral had not been discussed with any of us.  We all assumed that someone else had the information.

This made what was already the most tragic of situations even worse as we had to try and establish what he would have wanted, whilst mourning his loss too.

Fortunately, the Derby Telegraph published a short obituary about him – quoting a previous interview he had given where he said he wished to be cremated.

To make these conversations easier, Wathall’s has produced a free ‘My Funeral Wishes’ booklet to enable people to write down their wishes and instructions.

This collates all the necessary information is in one place from who has a copy of their will, whether their funeral is already paid for and then what they want on the day itself such as music, dress code and charities to benefit from donations.

Documenting information in this way can either prompt discussion with the family or they can put it in a safe place or with us for safekeeping and simply tell their loved ones that it exists and to refer to it when they pass away.

For even greater peace of mind – taking out a pre-payment funeral plan ensures that a person’s wishes are clearly made and also that families are not worried about the cost at what is already a very traumatic time.

By choosing to plan ahead, you’ll benefit from peace of mind knowing that everything is taken care of in advance; reassurance that your family won’t have to cope with the uncertainty of worries about your funeral arrangements; save money by fixing the cost of our services included in the plan at today’s prices and financial security as your money is held securely with a guarantee that there will be nothing more to pay for Wathall’s services.

The worst-case scenario for any family is facing a sudden and unexpected death – particularly if finances are tight or that someone with no family has the worry of who will sort out the arrangements.

There can be financial support from the Department of Work and Pensions and hospital or the relevant local council can sometimes help but this can be a stressful process.  And, of course, funeral directors offer a wide range of different options to keep costs down.

However, by planning ahead both by leaving instructions and, ideally a pre-paid funeral plan, families are saved the stress of trying to second-guess what their loved ones wanted and have the comfort in knowing that the funeral is carried out the way that you would want it.

My Funeral Wishes is available to download free of charge at or by calling 01332 345268 and, for more information about pre-paid funeral plans, please visit or call Wathall’s.