In many Southern African countries, it is often believed that when people prepare for death they are actually wishing ill-fate on a living person. This has made talking about someone’s death or preparing for this eventuality a taboo topic in many Southern African communities. However, planning for death while living abroad is very important as well because of the financial burden that funerals place on the families of loved ones as well as the larger community they belong to.
Often, when someone in the Southern African Diaspora dies,the family is at a loss of how to cover the costs that easily range from $20, 000USD upwards. This is a large amount to raise by anyone’s standards and leaves the grieving family grappling on how to mourn the loss of their loved one as well as raise funds to meet the costs of burial at the same time. Often times, the death is untimely and it leaves the family with a huge financial burden.
At times, the family and friends contact their embassies seeking financial support, only to find out that our embassies roles are only to provide support services for the repatriation of bodies and not bear the financial costs during times of loss. The burden of meeting the financial obligation is therefore solely dependent on the goodwill and financial health of their family, friends and community at large.
It is in these times of distress that the Southern African communities come together, in the spirit of umunthu and community to assist one of their fellow countrymen and women whether they personally knew the individual or not. Family and friends typically send emails to inform the community of the loss, and galvanize the community so that they can gather in order to provide both emotional support and financial support for the family members of the deceased. Improvements in technology have also made crowd sourcing sites such as Go Fund Me and Indiegogo a popular virtual gathering sites which allow our communities to solicit and collect funds.
Although community support is healthy and encouraged, deaths happen so often in our communities that it is also contributes to the impoverishment of our communities. However, rather than being a burden on ones family and community, by planning ahead, one does not have to leave their family and community in distress.
There are many avenues that one can use to ensure the financial security of their loved ones through proper planning. Getting insured is one large part of it. Insurance is offered through workplaces, banks or private insurance and financial services firms, offering plans ranging anywhere from as little as $1 a month to $30 a month that can offer ones family a great relief. In a country where planning ahead often means cost saving, it is a smart way of taking care of your family even when one is no longer able to do so. In many cases, such preparation means that ones family is not only able to meet the costs of repatriating the body, but also meet other hidden costs of funeral planning. In other cases, a good insurance plan mean that the family can be comfortable for the rest of their lives.
Rather than relying on “Go Fund Me” accounts and the like as a way to meet your burial costs, there are many benefits that one can gain from planning ahead through low cost financial planning. SACU is therefore holding a forum in order to discuss the burial costs in our communities and how financial planning can help. Our forum will bring you in contact with providers of insurance services and community leaders that are often involved in the process of making funeral arrangements in our various communities.
Join SACU for our forum “Confronting Burial Costs in Our Community: Financial Planning, Insurance, and Investment” to be held in downtown Silver Spring on March 26th, from 12pm-3pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center.
The event is free, please see eventbrite for details : https://southernafricanforum.eventbrite.com