How has the cost of dying changed in recent times? The financial services company SunLife has produced a report every year since 2004, which addresses the average cost of dying in the UK and this dropped by 4.3 percent between 2020 and 2021.

SunLife estimates the cost of dying as the total cost of a funeral, which includes professional fees, the service and optional extras like flowers and catering for a wake. In 2021, this amount was £8,864, compared to £9,263 in 2020 when the company last reported the figures.

Basic, no-frills funerals have also decreased in cost—at £4,056 for this kind of funeral, the figure has decreased 3.1 percent since the same period in 2020. SunLife attributes the fall in prices to the drop in professional fees and the lack of ‘extras’ included in many funerals that took place during the pandemic and the lockdown when social distancing limited numbers allowed at funerals.

Direct cremation the cheapest

It is still cheaper to be cremated, rather than buried and direct cremations (the cheapest option of all) have increased in popularity, accounting for 18 percent of funerals.

One big change that also happened in 2021 was the rise in technology, with 90 percent of funeral directors saying they saw new trends such as the use of web links, apps and videos to stream or record funeral services.

Funeral directors said the biggest new tech trend was sharing web links/video apps to allow other people to watch the funeral online (69 percent), while 43 percent of funeral directors noted inviting people via social media, and 20 percent taking a video recording of the service.

Abide with Me most popular song choice

While other research has shown that more traditional songs such as ‘Abide with Me’ was the most played song at funerals in 2021, SunLife asked people what song they would most like played at their own send-off and the bulk of replies said, ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’.

When asked about the future of the funeral industry, directors say the biggest problems facing the industry are more competition, direct cremations increasing in popularity, rising costs and certain companies lowering standards.

When asked what can be done to address the issues, 40 percent of funeral directors say they want to see more regulation of the funeral industry and 18 percent want more cost transparency, with 3 percent arguing for greater funding from the government.

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