I finished reading “Dying to Meet you: Confessions of a Funeral Director” by Angjolie Mei earlier in January and resonated a lot with what the author mentioned about planning for the end (aka death):
There are so many life stages that we plan carefully for and splurge on. We save up for the perfect wedding, the dream honeymoon, the baby’s lavish first month celebration, milestone anniversaries and birthday parties. So it’s odd that while each of us is given an entire lifetime to plan for our funerals and what happens after our deaths, most people don’t — not even some funeral directors.
If you are like me, and do not want to be a burden to your family in the event of your death (which btw, gentle reminder — is a certainty, we just do not know when, where and how), here are 5 ways you can prepare for the end:
1. Buy sufficient insurance coverage
Many people fall sick unexpectedly or die suddenly,and do not have adequate insurance coverage or savings. They would rather spend the money on things they can enjoy, as they think that it is very unlikely that they will fall gravely ill. And even if they did, they would rather use their disposable income to pay their medical bills. But all we need is just one “what if” to come true, and it could wipe out whatever money they had saved from not buying medical insurance. They could very well leave their family members in debt from having to pay their hospital bills.
I knew of a man in his mid-thirties who died of leukaemia and left behind his wife, who had stopped work to take care of him and their 11-year-old child. The family had to borrow $200,000 to pay the medical bills he had incurred during the two years he was ill. He had not expected that he would fall so sick and had not bought an insurance plan that covered all his medical expenses.
Do invest in sufficent insurance protection to ensure that your family does not have to deal with frightening hospital bills, or pay the mortgage on their apartment and other costs when you walk out of life.
Financial planning, especially for those who have others depending on them, is crucial.
2. Make a will
If you pass away without making a Will in Singapore, your assets will be distributed according to intestacy laws, which may not be in line with your wishes.
3. Sign the Advance Medical Directive (AMD)
The AMD is a legal document that you sign in advance to inform your doctor that you do not want the use of any life-sustaining treatments to prolong your life in the event you become terminally ill, unconscious, or when death is imminent.
4. Have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
There is also the LPA, another legal document, which allows a person to appoint an individual to make key decisions for him, should he lose his mental capacity and become unable to do so on his own. The government strongly recommends that Singaporeans sign the LPA. We never know when we might lose our mental capacity due to accident or illness.
5. Pre-plan for the funeral itself
Pre-planning for a funeral can put the “fun” back in funeral. A funeral need not be a litany of rituals and book verses. It is an event that marks the end of a singular life — lying in the casket is not just a body, but a unique individual who was someone’s child, siblings, parent, friend, colleague, boss or mentor.
A Funeral is not a day in a life, but a Lifetime in a Day.
As we unavoidably think about death, I would like to encourage you in the words of Angjolie:
“..But also, think about your life — make it count and make it last.”
This article is an excerpt from the book “Dying to Meet you: Confessions of a Funeral Director” by Angjolie Mei, which I highly recommend. If you would like a copy of it, it can be found in local bookstores such as 草根書室 (Grassroots Book Room) or Epigram Books. Thank you for reading!