Death is one topic most Filipinos are very averse to talk about in whatever circumstance. Doing so is frequently described as perhaps the worst form of negative-thinking. If you bring up death during conversations even with loved ones, you’ll certainly hear responses like “Patay agad? Ang bata mo pa.”
To a certain extent, they have a point. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the life expectancy for Filipino men is 65. For Filipinas, it’s 72. When you’re only in your 40s, why worry about death when you have essentially half of your life ahead of you, right? Wrong! Dead wrong!
For one, death is unavoidable. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s immortal quip that the only thing certain in this world are death and taxes? Turns out he is spot on. Second and more importantly, life is unpredictable. In a report, the WHO noted that as much as 7,000 Filipinos die of road accidents each year. Having said that, I cannot not mention here the brutal death in 2011 of one of my mentors in journalism, Professor Lourdes “Chit” Simbulan.
Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy for any family, regardless of their economic and social status. Apart from dealing with grief, another thing that usually makes the emotional roller-coaster a lot tougher is the reality that a lot of families are financially unprepared for the death of a loved one.
From setting the funeral arrangements to securing a burial spot in the cemetery to providing refreshments for guests – everything is bound to cost a lot for the family. And we’re not yet mentioning here all the medical bills that needs to be settled in case of prolonged hospitalization prior to a person’s death (just imagine how many families had become bankrupt trying to save a loved one!). The costs can be so mind-boggling that sometimes, you will feel more pity for the bereaved family rather for the dead.
All of that comes into my mind every time I encounter someone begging for financial help from me and my fellow jeepney or bus passengers to bury a close relative. Or, whenever I see the long lines of indigent people seeking assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office here in Quezon City every morning.
Everyone, especially the breadwinners, should prepare for their or their loved one’s death. Won’t it make you feel good securing yourself and your family from financial uncertainty in case something happens? The good thing is, there are two good options by which it can be done without putting a strain on your monthly budget.
For example, many companies offer their employees an option to avail an insurance plan from a health maintenance organization or HMO. Usually, the monthly dues are divided between the two parties. to make it more affordable. Having a health card greatly minimizes a family’s out of the pocket medical expenses. Of course, it will be helpful also if an individual is a member of the government-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth.
The second one is by availing a memorial plan. As much as it may sound grotesque to some, given the realities of life, it is simply a prudent thing to do. Also, such plans are now very easy to avail. Who knows, one of your office mates might actually be promoting one.
Isn’t it amazing that setting aside P500 a month for five or so years will go a long way in making sure that your family will have peace of mind once you ride into the sunset and join our Creator?