Talking about death and why you need to do it

Talking about death and why you need to do it

Published on 12.08.21 by Karen -
minutes read

If talking about death makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, you’re not alone. In Australia we have a strange relationship with death. We don’t like to talk about it, think about it or plan for it.

But in some ways, we can be grateful to the COVID-19 pandemic for putting the topic of death on the table. Over the last year or so talk of death has surrounded us in a way that it is very unexpected and for some of us, we’ve been unfortunate to experience it first-hand.

Nothing before has managed to hold headline news through every media outlet and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

If you looked at events around the world and thought about your own mortality, you’re not alone. Even in Australia where the impacts of COVID-19 have been low by global standards, the impact has still been felt, for example with limited numbers being able to attend funerals. The rise in live streamed funeral services is something no-one would have imagined just a short time ago.


So, what’s the upside of this?


We’re getting more comfortable with the topic of death

Note book with "Things I wanted to say but never did" written on the frontAnd we think that’s a good thing.

Why? Well, unless you’re a complete recluse with no family or friends, you’re going to experience the death of someone you care about. If you’re not responsible for planning their funeral or any other tasks like closing accounts or distributing their belongings, you’ll probably think it’s a pretty simple process. 

You hear about someone dying and a few days later the funeral is held and it’s all done.

The truth is a lot more complicated. And that level of complication can be amplified even further if nothing has been planned or thought about in advance.

Death can involve a lot of decisions

If you’re the one responsible for picking up the successor role, there’s a lot of decisions to be made and steps to be taken.

On average, it can take 73 hours to plan a funeral, close bank accounts, notify friends and family, access insurance policies, disconnect utilities and distribute or dispose of personal belongings. Of course, that’s assuming you have everything you need.

Sadly, it’s not always so straightforward.


Where someone dies without a will or other plans in place, the process could drag on for years. Many people think unless they have a lot of property and valuables, they don’t really need to have a will. This is not true.

You know the saying, the pen is mightier than the sword? When it comes to succession planning, this is true.

A little planning in advance can save a lot of time, frustration and money. While you’re alive, you have the power to make it very easy for others after you die and it doesn’t take a lot of effort from you.


An act of love for those you care about

While we might like to think that we’re going to pass away peacefully in our sleep in our 90s after a full and happy life, that’s not always the case. You could fall ill suddenly (as COVID-19 has tragically highlighted for so many of us) or be in an accident. A small amount of preparation can help to reduce the suffering for your loved ones by reducing the number of decisions they need to make, as well as streamlining the administrative load.


Here’s some of the things we recommend for every adult 25 and over:

  • Make a record of where your accounts, assets and valuables can be found
  • Write a will
  • If you have valuable or sentimental items, make a list of specific people you’d like them to go to
  • Instructions on how you’d like your digital footprint to be managed – for example, do you want your Facebook account closed or switched to a memorial account, and if so, who will manage it.


And of course, there’s what you’d like for your funeral…

girl releasing paper lanterns into a lake


Do you know what you’d want for your final send off?

If you died today, who would choose your coffin?

Picture them sitting in a funeral home trying to decide between the inexpensive chip board option or, the slightly more expensive mahogany lacquered option.

Most of us would like to think that our loved ones wouldn’t be crazy to spend more than they should on a coffin when it’s only going in the ground or the furnace.

The problem is, when you’ve lost someone you care about their funeral is the last opportunity to do something for them. The satisfaction is short lived and a lot of people end up with bigger than expected funeral bills to pay only adding to their feelings of grief.

Many of us say “I don’t care what happens, I’ll be dead”.

This is true but, do you really want to leave a legacy of problems?




Make it easy for those you love with some clear instructions on what you want. Specify things like:

  • If you’d prefer cremation or burial
  • The type of coffin you want
  • Religious or secular service
  • The types of songs and readings you want
  • If you would want people to wear sombre clothes or bright colours.


Death is unavoidable, but being unprepared for it isn’t

In Australia we pride ourselves on our “she’ll be right” attitude but, COVID has shown us that being aware and prepared are the best ways to avoid a lot of problems. Taking some steps to think about death, prepare for it and talking about it with your loved ones means that you can save a people from unnecessary additional trauma when death does happen.


Don't leave others in the dark, make a record of what you want and where to find things in our "Personal Information Vault


flamingo logo



If you liked this article please share:

Share on Facebook    Share on LinkedIn   Share on Twitter

PLEASE NOTE: Our advice should be considered general in nature. We do not provide any legal, tax, medical or other professional advice and would advise that you seek expert professional or medical advice before making any decisions based on your individual circumstances. 

Want to stay up to date with what we're up to?

Stay in touch by subscribing to our newsletter. You'll receive our special offers, updates and more!

Subscribe now