Is it cheaper to live or die?
Cira Olivier's article on funeral prices rising more than 30 per cent got me thinking.
How much financial pressure is placed on loved ones during one of the hardest times they will face?
We have often joked in my family that when one of us dies, just wrap us up in a blanket, tie something heavy to us, take the boat out and dump our body into the ocean.
This misplaced humour is more about our family's love of the ocean and feeling free when we are out on the water, but as we all inch closer to those golden gates, it got me thinking about the cost of funerals.
As with most of my writing, I end up with more questions than answers which will provoke my toughest critics even more.
What are some of the cheaper options when it comes to funerals?
Better yet, what are some of the more environmentally friendly options that will help to combat climate change, increased population growth and lack of living space?
My grandfather's grave, as part of a war section at an Auckland cemetery, was dug up and moved with others to create more space within the cemetery. I don't want that happening again to any of my loved ones or myself. Imagine, your final resting place isn't actually that final, it just depends on available grave plot real estate in the future.
Each week as I drag myself to the gym to help prolong my life by keeping fit and healthy, I walk past the Rotorua Coffin Club next door.
I have developed a morbid sense of interest in window-gazing at the products, coffins on display and jovial meeting times of this popular group.
Coffin club members are some of the happiest people I've seen. I've found myself day-dreaming about what type of coffin I would like, the specific materials, the cost, whether I'd like to have a go at making it myself and even thinking, what is the point of a coffin if I end up being cremated?
My husband would have to chuckle at the thought of me building my own coffin. I can't even hang a picture straight.
This is a pretty heavy topic for me to write about.
I have the most horrific, irrational fear of death and dying.
I'm absolutely paranoid about death and losing loved ones, although inevitable, it scares me insanely so.
As a child I remember feeling anxious and stressed about dying as I lay in bed each night.
My own 5-year-old has recently started asking in his tiny, chipper voice: ''When are you going to die mum?'' I have to reply with something generic and comforting like: ''Not until I am at least 100''.
While it makes us both feel momentarily better, there really is nothing surer in life than death.
We don't get any choice about the way we go (or at least not yet, but that debate is a whole other column) but perhaps we can have some say in the way our funerals cost and how we are dealt with after we are dealt our last card?
I googled environmentally friendly funeral options and there plenty to choose from.
From the materials your casket is made out of to the type of embalming (if any) that you receive, there certainly are more options available.
Whether or not these are actually cheaper remains to be investigated but at least you can die with a happy conscience helping out the planet should you so wish.
Other cultures have different methods of disposing of bodies and managing burials.
Short of digging a hole in the back garden to bury our own, which I'm sure is illegal, how else can we reduce the costs and financial pressure when we die?
All the tips provided in the article certainly provide some simple effective ways to reduce costs.
An empathetic and professional funeral director should understand enough to not take advantage of families when dealing with funeral organisation and costs. There should be no hidden costs.
Everything should be explained simply and upfront.
Perhaps it would actually be beneficial to get to know your funeral director before you die, because let's face it, after you're dead, you can't.
Many funeral directors in the Bay of Plenty are sympathetic and in the business, because they care about the services they offer.
By providing more transparency with funeral directors and costs, it hopefully should not be a massive surprise that yes, there are costs involved in dying.
But by being better informed and aware of our options, it gives us more control over the way we go out and how to reduce the cost incurred by our loved ones.
New initiatives such as Osborne Funeral Directors' Death Café is breaking down this taboo subject and getting people to talk more about death.
Dealing with death needs to become something else we add to the list of things to prepare for in our future.
It needs to become something we discuss in our families and without going as far as organising a pre-paid funeral, it's a good idea to set aside money to help ease financial pressure once we're gone.
I might live until I am 100. But I also might not.
I don't want my boys to struggle in the future with ridiculous or exorbitant costs of fancy, fluffy funerals that could be avoided and better planned with alternatives when I'm gone.