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How to have the conversation that’s so hard most people simply don’t have it

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At Better Place Forests, we believe that the beauty of life doesn’t end with death. That’s why we’re pioneering the first sustainable alternative to cemeteries, and sparking a much needed dialog about end-of-life planning. Not sure if you want to start the conversation? That puts you, statistically speaking, in the majority. We know this because at BPF we conducted a survey* of 1,000 Americans to get a better picture of who is and isn’t talking about end-of-life plans. The results may surprise you: 52% of Americans older than 45 have done no end-of-life planning.

Distracting Ourselves From What’s Important

Let’s put this in perspective: among Baby Boomers (ages 55 – 74), less than a third (27%) –– and only 17% of Americans overall –– have an up-to-date will. In comparison, would you believe that Americans are more likely to have watched a movie or TV show featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (53%) this year than make any end-of-life plans? We love the Rock, but that made us raise the People’s Eyebrow. The stats don’t stop there. Let’s take this into perspective:

  • 27% Watched the finale of Game of Thrones
  • 27% Tried intermittent fasting
  • 26% Listened to a Lizzo Song
  • 21% Watched a World Cup game
  • 23% Watched an episode of Dr. Oz

Despite watching literally hundreds of deaths on Game Of Thrones, less than a third of our respondents have spent time planning for their own.

Can we change the subject?

In our survey, about half of those polled said they would rather talk about climate change than end of life (45%). That means it’s easier to talk about the end of the planet itself than our time on it. Nearly two-thirds of Baby Boomers (58%) said they’d rather talk about the 2020 election and 1 in 5 would rather talk about the last time they were drunk than discuss their final wishes.

Procrastination is Expensive

Almost half (46%) of Gen X and Millennials (total age range 23 – 54) say they do not (or did not) know their parent’s end-of-life wishes. Perhaps that’s because only 47% of Boomers (age 55 – 73) say they have made those plans, even though the average lifespan in the US is 79 years. Unfortunately, that means that millions of people will be unprepared when a family member dies unexpectedly and they are left making momentous decisions at the last minute. And that can get costly. The price of funerals has risen astronomically over the years. While the average funeral in the US costs $7,000 – $10,000, planning ahead can not just help mitigate cost for loved ones, but it can give you peace of mind.

Not Planning It Doesn’t Mean It Won’t Happen

Knowing all of this, maybe it’s time to think about some of the reasons why we should talk about end-of-life.There is peace of mind in knowing you’ve established the guidelines for your end-of-life so that your loved ones don’t have to. By planning with Better Place Forests, you’re outlining a beautiful experience for your loved ones by selecting a family tree. You’re also removing the stress from your family, who are often in no emotional state to be making the kinds of decisions required upon your passing.

Getting the Planning Started

At the end of the day your end-of-life plan is yours. By starting with your wishes in mind, you can develop a thoughtful plan that will make it easier to share with others. How you envision it, what you want for yourself, and why it’s important to you are all good places to start. Sometimes you’ll want input from your family. What is the experience that you want friends and family to have when they remember you? What will you or your family’s legacy be? And finally, consider starting a bucket list for you and your family that culminates with a fantastic memorial. By thinking about end-of-life as part of a greater narrative about you and your family, you can find inspiration in starting the conversation.

*Data is based on a survey conducted by Better Place Forests in December 2019. The survey was given to Americans ages 24 and up.

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