The cost of dying and my trouble with ‘episodic foresight’

Jenni Tulip by a window

Dying. It isn’t a subject most people like to think about or discuss with their close friends and family, but it is a part of everyone’s lives. We die, our family members die and our friends die. Death is a part of us all.

I may not want to think about it, but I do. A lot. It crosses my mind everyday that a loved one could slip away quickly without warning or a known reason. These thoughts cause me to worry and I get myself into a little panic. I heard recently that humans are the only animals capable of simulating possible future events by playing them out in our own minds. It’s called ‘episodic foresight’. ‘The ability to project oneself into the future and mentally simulate situations and outcomes’ (reference). I often find myself doing just this; playing out negative future scenarios in my mind almost to the point I start to physically react that it has actually happened/happening and I have to force myself to snap out of it.

Does anyone else do this?

Dying is something I believe we should talk about, but I find it hard. Not because I struggle to talk about my feelings but because it starts to bring on those thoughts which I try to block out. Thinking about death is a lonely feeling. I can only imagine it gets harder as we creep closer to the age of typical life expectancy. I can’t imagine how I will deal with it then.

One subject I am vocal about is the cost of funerals. According to the ‘Cost of Dying Report’ by Sunlife, the average cost of dying is now £8,126 of which £3,693 is just the funeral. This figure is a 2.9% increase on 2014’s figure. Shocking.

Even worse, the price varies greatly depending upon where you live/die. Living in Yorkshiremeans that dying this year would be cheaper for me than someone in Northumberland. Comforting? Not so sure.

I’ve made it clear to Dave that I don’t want a fancy coffin that is just going to be destroyed- what’s the point? I’ll be dead so wont get to see it. A cardboard box if fine for me. And no flowers- they die anyway. No more death please!

I’ve always wanted to be buried rather than cremated (yep, contradicting the whole ‘I’ll be dead so it doesn’t matter what happens to me’ stance) because I’m terrified of the thought of burning. Being buried feels more natural. My flesh can feed the creepy-crawlies and tree could be planted on me or something. My bubble was busted when I learnt that burials cost more than cremations. Damn.

Adverts from life saving plan companies encourage people to save and plan their own funeral before they die, meaning they can have it ‘exactly how they want it’ and so their family don’t have to worry about the costs and arrangements at such a difficult time. For me. the former point isn’t relevant- I’ll be dead. I understand that people with religious beliefs may think differently, so it’s still a valid point.

When Dave and I got our Wills drawn up, I asked about including a part about our funeral wishes. We were advised to write a letter containing our wishes that will be kept with the legal Will document. We haven’t done this yet. Now I know that getting buried costs more than getting burnt I may need some more time to think about my ‘death wishes’.

Do you talk about death with your loved ones? I would like to hear how others remain positive while talking about this solemn subject.

By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.