Do we want to know how and when we'll die, and what makes us scared of dying?

Ellen Manning
<em>Do you want to know how and when you’ll die? (Picture: Getty)</em>
Do you want to know how and when you’ll die? (Picture: Getty)

Death isn’t something people often want to talk – or think – about. Especially when it comes to thinking about our own demise.

The issue is up for discussion in the latest episode of Yahoo UK’s podcast ‘Britain Is a Nation of…’, which looks at statistics around death.

Do Brits want to know the details of their death?

According to previous research by YouGov Omnibus, a quarter of Brits (27%) want to know when they’ll die, how they will die, or even both.

One in seven (14%) want to know both when and how they will die, one in twelve (8%) just want to know when, and one in 20 (5%) would rather just know how it’s all going to end for them.

Young people are more curious about their demise, with a total of four in ten (40%) keen to know when or how they’ll die, or both.

According to YouGov’s research, one in ten (10%) 18-to-24-year-olds want to know when they will die, one in nine (12%) how, and nearly one in five (18%) both.

Those figures fall among older age groups, with one third (35%) of those aged 25 to 34, just over a quarter of those aged 35 to 44 (28%), and a fifth of those aged 45 and above (22%) wanting to know anything about how they’ll die.

Older groups are more likely to say they don’t want to know anything at all about when or how they’ll die, with three quarters (74%) of those aged 55+ saying so compared to half (52%) of under-25s.

Listen to the full episode of Britain is a Nation of… below

For Cariad Lloyd, host of the award-winning podcast, The Griefcast, thinking about how or when you might die is an interesting idea when many people find it hard to accept the inevitability of their death.

Speaking on Britain Is a Nation Of…, she said: “Actually what I am obsessed with is the fact that we are all going to die.

“So there’s no-one magical, there’s no-one who’s going to miss that boat, there’s no-one who’s like, ‘oh I took my Vitamin C, I’ll be fine’.

“So it’s almost like why do you need to know when it’s going to happen before you haven’t accepted it’s going to happen.

“I think so many people aren’t able to even talk about the fact it’s going to happen so knowing when and how is like, ‘yeah that might be helpful, have you dealt with the fact it definitely will and are you living your life in a way that feels that you are aware of your own mortality?’ Because I don’t think a lot of us are because it’s very difficult.”

Who’s more scared of dying – the old or the young?

The YouGov Omnibus research also revealed that while young people are the most likely to want to know when and how they’ll die, they’re also the most afraid of dying.

Four in ten (42%) 18-to-24-year-olds say they are ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ afraid, compared to a third (33%) of those aged 55 and above.

Overall, half of Brits (52%) say they are not afraid of dying, compared to one in ten (11%) who say they feel very afraid, and a quarter (25%) who feel fairly afraid.

For Lloyd, the figures aren’t that surprising.

“I think if you get past 50 then you probably have known a fair few deaths in your time,” she told the podcast.

“Once you’re ‘in the club’ as we call it on my show, you become aware that death is not the end. Obviously it’s the end for that person, it’s really sad, it’s really awful, but it doesn’t mean everything stops. Life goes on.”

<em>Older people are less afraid of dying, YouGov research revealed (Picture: Getty)</em>
Older people are less afraid of dying, YouGov research revealed (Picture: Getty)

For her, someone’s fear of death is probably more closely linked to their experience of death rather than simply their age.

“For me I’d want to know people had experienced grief, rather than their ages. So people who have had what they would describe as a significant loss, do they then fear death?

“I think if you’re older, you’ve seen people die, you’ve seen that their families are okay, you’ve seen that you were okay.

“It’s awful, you never take away from it being awful, but perhaps you don’t fear it in quite the same way as when you’re 18 and you’re like, what would I do?'”

To hear more unpacking of statistics about British people, listen to the full episode above, or download it on Apple Podcasts, Acast, or Spotify to listen while on the go.