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Dying sucks. This is how to make it suck less

Posted 14 January, 2018 by Surely
in Pitfalls to Avoid

Every Sunday morning, my friend Janice will bring her grandmother to the wet market at Redhill. As her grandma has stayed in that area for more than 30 years, she misses the company of her old friends very much after moving to Punggol in 2013. With her granny being wheelchair-bounded, it is inconvenient for her to go back on her own. Therefore, it becomes a Sunday ritual and a bonding session between Janice and Granny.

Another Sunday arrives. Janice knocks on Granny’s room door and reminds her that it is time to leave the house for Redhill market. Her Granny stays in her bed, refusing to get up. She tells Janice that there is no need for her to bring her to Redhill anymore. Thinking that Granny must have quarrelled with her friends there, Janice enquires further. Her Granny’s response left her speechless

.

“All my friends there have passed away.”

 

There is no way of putting this. Dying really sucks. Not just for yourself but also for all the people who know you. It is depressing enough to lose your ability to move around on your own but to know that your friends are no longer around makes matters even more upsetting. And the worst part about dying? It is definite.

 

Father Time is still undefeated.

Father Time is still undefeated.

 

Although the end result is the same, the way people die has changed.
How so?

 

Let’s dissect Death.  

 

In the past, people tend to kick the bucket in a different manner from how we do now. Looking at the medical record 200 years ago, some causes of death are diarrhoea, burns, apoplexy and spontaneous combustion! If we move a century forward from that point, we can be pretty sure that the battlefields of WW1 were the undesired and unintended resting place for millions of young, healthy and abled men of different nationalities.

What we can conclude from these is that people in the past often die from a sudden death. They can be in perfect health one day and pass on the next day. Medical resuscitation and treatment for illnesses are basic, compared to what we have today.

 

The Past

 

Moving to today, things are very different. While doctors still cannot prevent death altogether, they can postpone it. Cancer, heart diseases and pneumonia are the top principal causes of death in Singapore but people tend to expire a lot later in life as seen from our increasing life expectancy. The following graphic shows how people live and perish these days.

 

Now

Due to longer lifespans, we have more time to contract diseases and to be hurt. Medical advancements give us a chance to recover from illnesses and regain our vitality. As we age, our organs start to function sub-optimal due to wear and tear and our body suffers. We fight hard to maintain our bodily functions with medicine, supplements and exercise but eventually, we have to leave this beautiful round mould called Earth.

Enjoying this article so far? We guess not unless you love necrophilia.
Death is horrible. It sucks the life out of us, literally and figuratively.
Yet it is a conversation that we must have because immortality is not at hand.

 

A Good Death – all we can hope for.

 

There is a silver lining to all these. Instead of a sudden thud, the Grim Reaper makes his presence known by letting you hear his footsteps. Sometimes your doctor tells him to come back another day but you know he will be waiting around the corner.

What can you do about it?
You plan.
For a good death that is.

Look, we don’t like to talk about death, let alone discuss how we want to go. This is a natural instinct. However, not having this tough conversation may result in a horrible end. What we really hope for is to go on our own (but realistic) terms. These are some of the terms that define a good death.

– Having your wishes respected over the dying process
– Being pain-free or relatively so.
– Spiritually engaged
– At peace emotionally
– At the place of your choice.
– Saying the last farewell to family and loved ones.
– Assurance that they are taken care of.

You may scoff at the idea at first but if you think deeply about it, the choice is clear. Imagine this – you have always been in control of your own life. You are healthy, independent and wish to have a say in everything that concerns you. However, as you grasp for your last breath, you cannot choose to go home. You have lost your ability to speak because of all the tubes running down your oesophagus. You cannot tell your family what you really want when they struggle amongst themselves on what you truly desire. Dying in this case really suck.

 

The common theme of death in all eras - sorrow.

The common theme of death in all eras – sorrow.

 

Now if you have communicated your wishes previously to your loved ones, things could have been very different. You have arranged for a medically trained practitioner to take care of you at home where you feel much more at ease. As compared to all the restrictions placed by the hospital on visiting hours and number of visits, your friends and family can come see you anytime, assuring that someone familiar will always be with you when you take your last breath. You are leaving your family with a fully-paid property and no debts.

It is a great way to die, if there is ever such a thing.

 

He not busy being born is busy dying

 

This famous morbid line from Bob Dylan’s song inspires millions of artists to reinvent and re-discover themselves. On the other hand, it serves as a reminder to all of us the general direction that we all are heading towards. We love this line much better than YOLO as the latter seems to be the excuse for doing dangerous acts without a care for others.

As we are busy living our lives, let us take a moment to appreciate the fact that we are now given a chance to plan for the dying part. The previous generation had no such opportunity as they were mostly down after the first strike. We have been presented with this gift and we should make the most out of it.

 

dying

Dying peacefully is also a gift to your family as it serves as a proper closure.

 

Sit down and have a conversation with your loved ones when you are ageing. Let them know what you want truly. Update them when you have a change of mind. You may even put it in writing if that is your preferred way of communication.

Talking about it is just a start. Preparing for it is an on-going process. Not taking health for granted, living a happy life and being spiritually connected are some things you can do but that is not what we are good at.  As an insurance educator, we want to let you know that insurance can be of great help when it comes to end-of-life preparation.

Life insurance is no longer about the plain old vanilla death coverage. Perhaps in response to the different ways people now live and die, insurance has changed accordingly. Critical illnesses insurance has sprouted to help people to cope financially with the associated cost of contracting one. In recent years, early critical illness insurance is developed for the same purpose but for a wider range of less lethal ailments.

You also have your hospitalization insurance so that you do not leave a legacy of medical bills for your offspring to bear. Disability-income insurance ensures that you are financially stable even when you are at a low point of health. Long-term care insurance such as Eldershield is designed to take a monetary load off your shoulders when you are losing a significant amount of bodily functions.

 

>> We have a nearly perfect guide to life insurance coverage. Read it here. <<

 

It may seem to be crude to be talking about money and dying at the same time but we do that anyway because it is too important. Without financial support, a good death will be hard to come by.

 

A Good Life with a Good Death is all we can hope for.

 

We know a lot about life.
There are plenty of ways to go about it and many articles on how to live a full and meaningful life.
On the other hand, we almost always avoid talking about death.
As a result, we know close to nothing about having a good death as opposed to enjoying a good life.

Life is not a fairytale where everything ends happily ever after.
It is an empty book where you get to fill in all the details.
How it ends may not be up to us to choose but if given a chance, let us put that perfect ending to fruition!

www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

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