Coming to Terms with Death

Close up child holding elderly parents hand as he sits under a red blanket

Death is a powerful word that can bring up a lot of negative emotions. Not only that but it’s a word that carries even more weight as we grow older. So, it’s no wonder we tend to avoid the subject. But there is something to be said for coming to terms with death - whether it’s our own passing or coping with the loss of someone close to us.

Coming to terms with death means normalising the fact that eventually, everyone’s time will come. It’s about moving away from a head-in-the-sand approach to death. You can do this by accepting and acknowledging that dying is just another part of life’s cycle.

When you think positively about dying, you can address questions such as what kind of impact you want to leave on the world. You can consider what you would like your legacy to be. You can prepare to make things easier for those you care about. You can even focus on ticking some things off your bucket-list.

We want to explain how there can be an upside to coming to terms with death, no matter how unbelievable that may seem. So, if you’re still not convinced, let’s look at how having a positive outlook on death can benefit us and the ones we love.

What are some benefits of accepting death?

Coming to terms with our own mortality can be easier said than done but there can be many benefits to having a positive outlook. The loss of a life is always tragic but it’s an inevitable part of being human. We can benefit in a number of ways by accepting this fact with an open mind.

It forces you to live in the moment

You only live once, so make it count! Accepting that life is finite allows us to really live in the moment. In fact, it can allow us to live in a whole new way. When we are mindful of death, it reminds us to get going with things. Be present in every moment, because you never know how long you have left to enjoy life’s everyday wonders.

Death is no longer something you fear

Being open and positive about death can make it less intimidating. The more we think about and talk about these things, the less stigma surrounds them. While it might feel off at first, it’s worthwhile putting into practice as you age.

You may be more motivated to achieve goals

When you live life blissfully ignoring death, you may live as though you have all the time in the world. This can make you put off achieving certain goals or checking things off your bucket list. Accepting that it could be now or never, could be the push you need to do something truly great.

You can put financial protection in place for your loved ones

When we die, our families may have to cover any final expenses such as unpaid debts, funeral costs or bills for example. When we accept that we won’t live forever, we can put measures in place to financially protect the ones we care about most.

You can think about what kind of legacy you want to leave behind

What do you want to be remembered for? Are there any stubborn feuds with a loved one that you would like to settle? Do you want to leave an inheritance behind for your grandchildren, like a college fund for instance? Is there a charity close to your heart that you would like to include in your Will? All these positive things are worth considering when thinking about your passing.

You can practically prepare to make things easier for your loved ones

By accepting that we all die eventually, we are more aware of the impact it may have on those we leave behind. This can include the handling of paperwork, shutting down accounts, closing bills and other such things. Why not take some small steps to make this easier for your family down the line?

Understanding our fears

As humans our instinct is to survive. That’s why it’s perfectly normal to be afraid. If you want to overcome this fear, one of the first steps in coming to terms with death is understanding why we fear it.

Identifying what it is we fear most about passing away can help us realise that it might not be as terrifying as we think. We each have our own individual reasons. Maybe you’re worried about what will happen after you die. You might fear that your life had no real purpose or meaning. You could be afraid of dying alone or in pain. When you identify what you’re most afraid of, you can get to work on managing those fears. One way to do this is by speaking to someone like a counsellor or a representative from your place of worship for instance. Even sharing your fears with your loved ones can help relieve some of the stress.

Getting practical about preparing for death

Coming to terms with death means you’re more likely to take practical steps to prepare. This can include thinking about funeral costs, considering what will happen to your digital accounts such as Facebook or online banking, even making a Will.

Practical preparations are less about you and more about those you’re leaving behind. Finances, funeral planning and paperwork are the last thing anyone wants to deal with following the death of a loved one – so why not ease that burden while you’re still alive? Thankfully, there are some measures you can take to make things easier for your loved ones when you pass.

Make a Will

Making a Will can save your family stress when it comes to dividing your assets when you die. Do you want to leave your car to your nephew? Is there an heirloom you would like to pass on to your child? A Will can even be used to name someone to take care of your pets when you die. It’s a way of making your wishes known when it comes to the division of your assets.

While making a Will can seem intimidating, it might be easier than you think. Here’s everything you need to know when making a Will.

Consider funeral costs

With the average overall total cost of a funeral sitting at £4,515 and potentially rising to £13,622 depending on choices made, leaving some money behind for these costs could be a huge relief for your loved ones. If you’re considering leaving behind a cash lump sum to help your loved ones cover funeral costs and other expenses, we’re here to help. With our Funeral Insurance Plans and Over 50 Life Insurance, acceptance is guaranteed for UK residents aged 50 to 80. No medicals or blood tests needed, just a straightforward application process.

Make plans for your pets if you have any

Do you have pets? Now could be a good time to make plans for if something were to happen to you. That way you know that they’re looked after how you see fit. You could include this information in your Will.

Think about the kind of funeral you want

These days, there are lots of choices when it comes to funeral planning. You can go for a traditional funeral, something more alternative or you even have the option to choose a direct cremation.

When you know what kind of send-off you would prefer, don’t be afraid to speak openly about your wishes with your loved ones. That way, they won’t be left wondering when the time comes. This can ease the burden at an already difficult time.

Manage your documents and accounts

It’s important to consider the fact that your family may be left sorting your bills and other accounts when you’re gone. Make a folder that includes important information and keep it somewhere safe. Make someone you trust aware of the folders location. List anything you’re subscribed to, all your account information for bills, loan repayments, utilities, and provide whatever information is needed to shut these accounts down. For online bank accounts, your executors can arrange for them to be closed. The money in them can then be claimed on behalf of your estate. Don't leave details of your passwords or PIN numbers as someone could potentially use them after your death to commit a criminal offence.

You might even want to appoint someone to take care of deactivating your online accounts and social media.

Here’s a quick list of what you might include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • Bank account details
  • Recent bank statements
  • Information on utility providers
  • Information on subscription services
  • Insurance policies
  • Pension plans
  • National Insurance Number
  • Your Will
  • Social media log in details

Some practical resources from British Seniors

A Guide to Planning and Paying for a Funeral

What Happens to Your Digital Legacy When You’re Gone?

What is Probate?

Estate Planning in the Wake of Covid-19

Power of Attorney: What you Should Know

Emotionally preparing for death

Speaking with a spiritual leader

Whether you’re a religious or spiritual person or not, there is likely some spiritual and emotional work to do when it comes to accepting death. If there’s anything you’re concerned about on a spiritual level, it could make sense to speak with a professional. A spiritual leader or a trained therapist could help you work through some of your feelings.

Coping with anxiety

Accepting mortality can be freeing in its own way, making us more conscious in the present moment. If we can manage any anxious feelings around death, we avoid negative behaviour, and make the most of the time we have. Exercising daily and practicing calming breathing exercises can help manage anxiety. If you need to, you can always speak to someone. Here’s the NHS’s Anxiety Self Help Guide to get you started.

Shifting perceptions

Up until the last century or so, death was something that frequently touched our everyday lives. People died a lot younger or without proper care. In fact, many people passed away at home instead of in a hospital with medical attention. These days, things are a lot different. We have advanced healthcare and end-of-life care is better than ever. You can rely on the public health system to make sure you’re properly taken care of. While this may not be enough to put your mind at ease, it’s worth reminding yourself if you’re feeling anxious.

Start talking openly about death

Don’t let death continue to be a taboo subject. Talk to your loved ones about your plans. Make your family aware of your funeral plans or wishes. Let’s discuss how to approach a conversation about death.

Here’s how to have a conversation about death

Whether you’ve put plans in place or you’re not quite there yet, it could be a good idea to kick things off with open conversation. Talking about your funeral wishes with your loved ones is not only helpful for them but it can help you come to terms with things. Planning for the end of your life is a very personal experience but there are many reasons why it’s important to communicate with others during the process. These conversations can be challenging but there are some things you can do to make it that bit easier.

  • Remember that there’s a time and a place for difficult conversations. With that being said, it could be better to approach this kind of subject casually. The important thing to remember is to choose a time when you don’t feel rushed, and you can communicate the most important points.
  • Consider telling your loved ones what it is you would like to talk about in advance, so they aren’t too shocked. This can help prevent emotions from running high. Some might object to this kind of discussion, in that case, try to calmly explain your reasons.
  • Don’t feel pressured to cover everything in one conversation. You should encourage your loved ones to have ongoing open and honest conversations if it’s something you feel you would benefit from.
  • It may seem very formal but consider writing down some notes about what you want to discuss. This will help you focus and get the most out of the conversation.
  • Be understanding if others are upset. It’s natural to get upset when we think about these things. The same goes for you, don’t worry if you get upset, it’s perfectly normal.
  • Talk about your feelings, and not just the positive ones. Now is the time to talk about the stressful, upsetting, sad things.

Small steps can make a big difference

We hope that this information has provided you with some guidance as to how to come to terms with dying. We wanted to share practical, helpful advice to help you prepare as best you can (and to give you some peace of mind). When you prepare for what’s ahead, you can relax knowing there’s a plan in place. Remember that it’s important to share your feelings and wishes with your loved ones. More importantly, it can be a relief knowing you’ve ticked some important items off your to-do list.

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