Britons are increasingly rejecting traditional funerals in favour of “celebrations” featuring favourite pop songs, football teams and hobbies, a study has found.
Half of today’s funerals are a “celebration of life” and one in 10 (12%) do not include any religious elements, research by The Co-operative Funeralcare found.
The survey suggests that the funerals for Diana, Princess of Wales and Jade Goody have transformed modern customs, encouraging personal services instead of those organised mainly by church officials or funeral providers.
The poll of 850 funeral homes and 2,000 British adults found that more than half of the population (54%) would prefer a celebration at their send off, and almost half (48%) wanted a service that reflected their favourite hobby, colour, football team or music.
Funeral historian Dr Julian Litten said: “The funerals of Princess Diana and Jade Goody have opened people’s eyes to the array of choices available from cars to coffins, pop songs to white doves. Most importantly, today’s funerals are increasingly a celebration of life rather than mourning a loss.”
The Co-operative Funeralcare’s own directors had reported requests for pink Cadillacs, milk floats, motorbikes and a tandem bicycle, while mourners had watched firework displays, blown bubbles and released balloons.
Just 36% of funerals used purely religious music in favour of more contemporary tracks, with the top three being My Way (Frank Sinatra or Shirley Bassey), Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler or Celine Dion) and Time To Say Goodbye (Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli).
One in 20 coffins (6%) was bespoke, with requests including models of a Lancaster bomber, a Tardis and a yacht. The choice of materials now includes wood, cardboard, wicker and British wool.
At 60% of funerals, the deceased was dressed in clothes that reflected their life, job or hobby. More unusual outfit requests had included a clown costume, cyclists’ Lycra, fishermen’s waders and a wet suit. More common requests included wedding dresses, football strips, military uniforms, kilts and bikers’ leathers.
ICM surveyed 2,000 British adults online between September 22-24, 2010.