Writing about dealing with death is a sensitive issue.
The trouble is we don’t tend to talk about death much, apart from in black jokes. But death isn’t funny when you’re experiencing either first hand or once removed.
The issue is raised in Julian Baggini’s book What’s it all about? The book explores some of the traditional and more modern ideas about philosophy and the meaning of life. It delves into religion, atheism, altruism.
One of the themes it raises is the legacy a person wants to leave, our links with the past and how one generation relates to the next.
The importance to the majority of us of what we leave behind is obvious – why bother to go to the trouble of having such elaborate rules for wills and inheritance if it weren’t? Why not have the state take everything and reduce income tax from those still earning?
The trouble is the people who have to interpret what we intended will still be here when we’re not. How do we clarify things, make things easier for our executors? One way is to make a letter of wishes.
But even the best-written will can sometimes be the subject of a dispute, as grieving relatives or friends have different ideas, opinions, have had different conversations with the deceased – many of the former are at a stage in life when the loved one may be a little confused.