Planning for life and death is the new normal


Covid-19 continues to have a massive impact on the global economy and has shown us just how fragile our lives are. Tony Page weighs age, mortality and commonsense planning as the government considers easing lockdown.           

It is now four months since we were introduced to Covid-19 and five weeks since the lockdown upended our normal way of life. For many it has been a tumultuous changing, having lost a close friend or loved one to the virus. For each passing, the lives of their wider circle are forever changed and that sense of loss will remain. Eventually, they will become Covid-19 anecdotes and life’s experiences.

Two things cannot be allowed to become anecdotal, though; the risk of a future pandemic and the incredible speed with which nature has reclaimed space left by the lack of human interchange.

The last significant pandemic was in 1918 when the Spanish Flu killed at least 50 million people. The science of virology was in its infancy and little, if anything, known about containment let alone treatment. In a matter of months, the pandemic stopped and the world set back to work. A century on with more known about viral outbreaks and around the world, thousands of medics and scientists spend their lives researching and proactively developing vaccines to mutating viruses. Pretty good progress as a species, but we are sadly lacking as a global society.

Since 1914, we have seen 187 million killed in wars and the global cost of those is beyond measure. Since that time, 136 million have died from diseases and viruses and yet around the world countries were still unprepared to control Covid-19 and minimise its spread! 

It says a lot about our leaders, governments and politics that $420 billion was spent on armaments in 2018, while health workers now struggle to get access to basic personal protective equipment as the treat those affected by the virus. Maybe politicians will think again after this experience is over.

As the Scout Movement says: ‘Be prepared!

That’s the downside of what’s happening in our world. So what’s the upside? Well, since the global lockdown, we have stayed at home, parked our cars and stopped using planes and public transport. Nature has been repairing the damage our consumer society has caused over the past hundred years. In only four months, world pollution has significantly reduced, the ozone layer has started to repair itself - and the Himalayas are now visible from northern India for the first time in three decades!

Of course, this doesn’t address the issues of plastic in the oceans, the cutting down of the Amazon rain forests or the plundering of animal and fish stocks – but it’s a start! How long it will last will be telling once (if?) the world gets back to normal (whatever that is now?). 

Will we learn from this debacle? I doubt it. As soon as we can, we’ll be back in our cars, booking tickets and holidays and shopping galore! We will leave to our children the mess. I hope I’m wrong and Covid-19 serves to help us silly humans change for the better and value the world and its citizens more.

As one of those in an 'at risk' group, I’m going to ensure I have everything in order. There is nothing morose about taking a proactive approach to writing your Will or finding the best ways to minimise your exposure to Inheritance Tax or even, heaven forefend, planning the kind of funeral you want.

Be safe, stay home and stay in touch with friends and family.


Tags: funeral planning Will writing estate planning

More in Family & relationships

The only cure for grief is to grieve

Watching a television news report of serious flooding recently I was concerned to hear the way in which a priest described people’s distress. “I actually saw a grown man in tears,” he said. Why shouldn’t a grown man be in tears? What message was that priest conveying to the millions watching? That things needed to be pretty awful for a grown man to cry? That men should not cry? That men are different to women? What is a grown man?

The new rules of bereavement

The omnipresence of social media and digital communication tools have forced us to re-evaluate how we process previously private matters such as bereavement and grief. Sarah Seaton examines how always-on connections complicate how we deal with death.