Majority of Brits don't want funerals as they 'don’t see the point' and think 'money could be better spent'

People at a funeral

Over half of people surveyed said they did not want one or were unsure

Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 27/11/2023

- 13:00

A think tank asked over 2,500 people whether they wanted a service held in their honour

The majority of Brits no longer want a funeral when they die as they would rather their family spent their money elsewhere, a new study has found.

A report by a religious think tank Theo asked over 2,500 people whether they wanted a service held in their honour.

While 47 per cent responded that they would have a funeral, over half said they did not want one or were unsure.

The findings have prompted the Archbishop of Canterbury to warn that society is forgetting how to “cope with loss”.

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The report from Theos found that financial pressures and fleeting religious beliefs were causing a “growing number of Britons [to] dispense with funeral rites altogether”.

The findings of the report were preceded by a foreword by Most Rev Justin Welby, who said he was shocked by the results.

Referring to the death of his mother, he said: “People around us are increasingly sheltered from the physical reality of death, they know less and less about how they will die and how to cope with loss.

“It is shocking to discover that death may be seen as expensive, time-consuming and irrelevant.”


Most Rev Justin Welby

Justin Welby said he was shocked by the results


The study found that there was a correlation between those who were religious and those who voted in favour of having a funeral.

The think tank revealed that 76 per cent of people who attended a place of worship at least once a month want a funeral compared with 38 per cent who never attend.

Money was a contributing factor in people’s decisions.

Only 13 per cent of those who said they did not want a funeral said it was because they could not afford it, but 67 per cent believed that the money could be spent in a “better way”.

Meanwhile, 55 per cent said they didn’t “see the point” in the service.

People at a funeral

The report’s authors said funerals have changed in modern times.


Welby said the report “prepares us for a future in which death is increasingly taboo and grief shameful, possibly managed by technology: a future of griefbots”.

The report’s authors, Madeline Pennington and Nathan Mladin, said funerals have changed in modern times.

Mourning takes place “behind closed doors” and family members less often gather around the deathbed of a loved one before they pass.

“If funerals were one of the few places where death was openly and communally acknowledged in modern Britain, they too are now becoming less common,” they said.

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