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New website urges: talk about death

A new website that helps people prepare for the end of their lives is urging everyone to talk about death before it's too late. aims to “revolutionise” funeral plans, as well as will writing and end-of-life planning, and provide practical, emotional, spiritual and creative support for those planning and seeking advice on the issues around death.

Set up by life coach and communications strategist Barbara Chalmers, the site includes directories of funeral directors and celebrants, as well as products and services such as coffins, hearses, keepsakes or scattering ashes.

There are also some more esoteric options – creators of meaningful rituals; environmental artists and stone carvers, writers, painters, photographers and film-makers who can create memorials, and even ‘soul midwives’ and ‘death doulas’, who provide end-of-life-companion services.

“We hope Final Fling will be to death what mumsnet is to birth – a place to come if you find yourself in new territory, unsure,” said Barbara. “The UK is facing a care crisis. We have a growing and ageing population and shrinking budgets for health and care. We are heading into the golden years of the baby boomer generation, who like to be in control and want to do things differently.

“Religion, authority and tradition may have lost their hold in our increasingly secular society but we still have the need for spiritual and emotional support.”

Approximately 70% of the UK adult population dies without making a will, however a survey commissioned by Final Fling revealed that, while nearly everyone asked cared about having their affairs in order, a third had done nothing about it and a quarter couldn’t remember where key documents were. About 70% of people would rather manage their own affairs than leave decisions to someone else, but the same proportion had no arrangements in place for their funeral.

The site lets visitors browse for information, news and advice, search directories, or set up a ‘My Wishes’ workbook to record choices for their funeral, last requests, instructions, or even a ‘bucket’ list, which they can share with close friends or family.
They can set of a Will for Life and a Living Will (called an Advance Directive in Scotland) to guide others on treatment preferences.

It also hosts a forum for comments, tips, questions and advice, and can store digital legacies such as home movies or photos or an online ‘safe deposit box’ for documents such as wills, bank account details, deeds and other documents. A trusted friend can be appointed as keyholder for this.

The online directory lists celebrants, services and funeral directors by area or postcode. Once the site is up and running, the plan is to contact funeral directors and service providers to offer them the opportunity to be included. The site is being promoted to the public via local and national press.

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