Doesn’t it make sense to save for death, which is inevitable anyway?

last expense

 The past few years have seen our insurance industry innovate, and nowadays you can insure just about anything, including your spoons.

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Sometime back, an insurance sales person tried to convince me to insure my jewellery in case of theft or loss. I could not help laughing, because I don’t think I have jewellery worth insuring.

Yes, like most women, I have a few trinkets here and there only that mine are very cheap. In fact, if I were to take an inventory and attach cost, I am sure it would not go beyond Sh3,000 — so thief, you can help yourself to my cheap jewellery any day.

Anyway, the sales person was a very young woman, probably on her first job, and my unexpected laughter embarrassed her. Seeing this, I quickly explained why I had laughed, and to appease her, I referred her to a friend who has a trunkful of jewellery, half of which she has no idea what to do with.

 The past few years have seen our insurance industry innovate, and nowadays you can insure just about anything, including your spoons.

I wasn’t surprised, therefore, when a colleague told me that she had taken a funeral cover to take care of expenses in case a relative died.

I thought that was very forward thinking of her given that since we’re still a superstitious society, most of us would see this as a sure act of beckoning death. It is for this reason that many shy away from writing wills.

Huge tracts of land

I know this family where the patriarch amassed huge tracts of land during his productive years. Unlike many of his counterparts, he did not sell off the land, nor did he develop it. Everyone assumed that he was saving it for his children. By the time he passed away in his 80s, he was yet to sub-divide the land between his children, who by then had adult children with families of their own.

I would later learn that he belonged to a generation that believed if he allocated his property, he would die, and yet he was not tired of life.

The result is that most of his children led a life of struggle — they struggled to educate their children, they struggled to feed and clothe them, and yet there was a vast piece of land covered with bush that would have brought an end to this daily struggle.

These children are between their 50s and late 60s now, and therefore not as enthusiastic about the change of fortunes their new-found wealth might bestow on them, than they would have been in their youth. One can only hope that this time round, this late blessing will be of benefit to their children when they most need it.

But I was telling you about the colleague who has taken a funeral cover, before I got sidetracked.

The fact is that death is very expensive in our society — you are expected to feed the mourners who hold day-long vigils as the funeral planning is taking place, buy the casket, pay mortuary fees, buy flowers and rent a hearse, print funeral programmes, buy new clothes for the deceased’s immediate family, and finally feed the many people who come to witness the burial. Since most deaths are unforeseen, you are forced to part with money you don’t have to pay for all these many needs. Doesn’t it make sense to save for death, which is inevitable anyway?

Practical step

Much later, this colleague confessed to me that the cover was for her 60-something-year-old mother, who would probably die of a heart attack if she learnt her daughter was ‘preparing’ for her death.

Though she was convinced that the step she took was practical and would be of immense benefit at some point, she also felt a bit guilty, as if she had betrayed her mother — didn’t I tell you, we’re a suspicious lot? To assuage her guilt, she has decided to take a medical cover for her mother as well. A good idea as well, given how unaffordable health care is in this country.

The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: [email protected] ke.nationmedia.com

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