Almost 80 per cent of Hongkongers believe it is important to plan ahead for their funerals but only 20 per cent have done anything about it, a survey said. “Both the elderly and the younger generation feel reluctant to broach the subject of death,” said Sally Sin Fung-yee, a social worker for the Evangelical Lutheran Church Social Service, which carried out the study. “Many of the elderly told me they didn’t know how to bring up the subject with their kids and younger people felt that talking about death with the elderly would make them unhappy.” Some 1,047 people both under and over the age of 60 answered questionnaires distributed by the NGO from March to September at its centre and online. The majority had not written a will or started planning what kind of funeral service they wanted or where it should be held. Death is a taboo subject in Chinese culture and puts the burden on family members who are often at a loss after the death of a loved one, such as deciding whether to opt for cremation or burial, and even who to invite to the funeral. DON'T MISS: Japanese emperor's funeral plans inspire an ageing society In one case, an elderly person told Sin they had attended three funerals for the same person because the family members had different religious beliefs. “They held a Christian funeral service first, then a Catholic and then a Buddhist one, all for the same person,” Sin said. “The majority of the disputes happen between family members who are left behind without knowing what the older generation wanted for their funeral.” Since 2013, the NGO has been running Project Crossroad, an initiative supported by HSBC and funded by the Community Chest to educate elderly people on the importance of preparing for death and emphasising the importance of dialogue between family members. Every year 1,000 participants are involved in small group discussions and art workshops where they talk about death. They go into detailed funeral planning and the results are recorded in a scrapbook. Chan Lai-sim, an 81-year-old woman who suffers from asthma and has nearly died on several occasions, handed over a copy of her “life and death” scrapbook to her son and daughter-in-law yesterday. “Chan’s son told us he can now follow the instructions in the book and he knows what to do after she passes away,” Sin said.