How early should we prepare for our own death?

September 14, 2017   //   No Comments

Monthly blog from Paul Allcock, SAIF Immediate Past President & SAIF Government Liaison rep

Yesterday I was at the University of Bath offices in London attending the launch of the Institute of Policy Research, Policy Brief on Death, Dying and Devolution. I had the privilege to contribute a chapter within the brief, and the launch proved to be a very interesting and positive day, bringing together various stakeholders and policy leaders with an interest in pre and post death.  What the day did emphasise was the importance of being prepared for one’s own death, both from a practical and financial aspect. I also personally am aware of the need to be spiritually prepared, and for those of us with a faith, that is an equally important element.

The question remains however – how do we get society to prepare appropriately for death? Well, most of us will be well aware of the many organisations which have done sterling work over the last few years in this area; actively encouraging people to talk and subsequently be prepared for death. Much of this is happening in the digital space online. For all the good that this is undoubtedly doing and making people think about talking and the need to be prepared, are enough people actually then sitting down and doing the talking?  The answer in my view is evidently still nowhere near enough. Yes, we see plenty of activity online, but I still get many individuals coming through my door without the slightest idea about what the wishes of the deceased are or how the expenses are going to be covered.

So what can we do? The majority of comments made online are by the already converted. My belief is that it is very easy to hide behind an online screen, where no-one actually sees us physically, and we can state things which we know we should be doing, but in the real world, we still have difficulty in processing when it comes to a face to face discussion with those we are going to be leaving behind.  Many people we know are taking out pre-paid funeral plans, which is obviously a great help financially, but often those left to arrange the funeral still have no idea of the deceased’s wishes. I don’t profess to know all the answers, and in the longer term there is undoubtedly a need for a cultural change right across society. I would personally like to see a learning module on death in schools, so that the future generations have a real understanding of the only thing along with taxes that is definitely going to affect all of us as we go through our lives to our own journey’s end.

This idea would be likely to raise many eyebrows, and I can see some parents and teachers being in uproar at the thought of youngsters being taught about death and how to prepare for that certain fact happening to us. But as those of us involved in death on a daily basis are only too aware, the trials of dealing with a bereavement without any preparation is one of, if not the hardest, thing that we will ever have to undertake.

As always I welcome any comments and if anyone is interested in reading the Policy Brief mentioned above, you can view it here.