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 Telegraph. 29/11/2023
The Victorians were steeped in death; an ever–present reality for all ages. Funerals were an extravagant business for everyone but the poorest, designed to demonstrate respectability and abundant grief. As recently as three generations ago, straw was spread in the street to muffle the sounds of hooves and carriages. Even during my mother’s lifetime, curtains in rural villages were drawn and neighbours would make a ceremonial call to pay their respects to the dead.
The British way of death, however, has altered radically. According to a survey by the religious think tank Theos, less than half of the population would now choose to have any kind of funeral.
Many would consider this a welcome break from a morbid ceremony that enriches only the undertakers… but the enforced cheeriness of secular mortality can be equally strange; the vapidity, the innate refusal it implies to face up to reality. We are turning away from traditional ways of death, but what replaces them may not be an improvement.
Love, Grief, and Hope: Emotional responses to death and dying in the UK, published earlier this week, 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.
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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 29 November 2023
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Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.