Love, Grief, and Hope: Emotional responses to death and dying in the UK
Madeleine Pennington and Nathan Mladin’s report examining emotional responses to death and dying in the UK. 27/11/2023
Theos’s report Love, Grief, and Hope: Emotional responses to death and dying in the UK features in the Daily Mail. 28/11/2023
My mother died ten years ago, and when I think about the exhausting, grief–drenched days that followed, the clearest memory I have is sitting in a small country church sobbing through the singing of Dido’s Lament by Henry Purcell.
The service was cathartic. It brought everything I felt about her to the surface and for the first time since her death ten days earlier, I was able to acknowledge my grief. For me, my brother and younger half–sisters, that funeral provided the crucial emotional framework that kept us sane in the first shock of her death.
Funerals are, in this world of tweakments and youth obsession, a necessary reminder that we too are mortal. We all need to acknowledge that there is shadow as well as sunshine, dark as well as light. Our modern reluctance to have funerals is connected to a profound squeamishness about death, but are we doing ourselves any favours by pretending we are not all headed in the same direction?
Just as we write a will to make our descendants’ lives easier when the time comes, so we must tell them to hold a funeral for us. Tell them it’s the best way to confront that maelstrom of emotion, to give the end of a life its proper significance, and to remember how very lucky they are still to be alive.
Love, Grief, and Hope: Emotional responses to death and dying in the UK, published earlier today, examines emotional responses to death and dying in the UK, presenting the findings of a nationally representative poll commissioned by Theos and conducted by YouGov.
Interested in this? Share it on social media. Join our monthly e–newsletter to keep up to date with our latest research and events. And check out our Supporter Programme to find out how you can help our work.
Madeleine is Head of Research at Theos. She holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Oxford, and previously worked as a research scholar at a retreat and education centre in Philadelphia. She is the author of ‘The Christian Quaker: George Keith and the Keithian Controversy’ (Brill: 2019), ‘Quakers, Christ and the Enlightenment’ (OUP, 2021), ‘The Church and Social Cohesion: Connecting Communities and Serving People’ (Theos, 2020), and ‘Cohesive Societies: Faith and Belief’ (British Academy, 2020). Outside of Theos, she sits on the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations.
Posted 28 November 2023
See other recent events and articles
Nathan Mladin reviews three TV programmes/films that centre around the topic of mind uploading and transhumanism. 21/02/2024Review
Elizabeth Oldfield speaks with naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham. 21/02/2024Podcast
Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.