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We have recently started up a “Death Cafe” here in Oamaru.

The reaction to the name itself has been really interesting.

Why do you have to call it death? That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? What about calling it passing over or going to the other side?

In reality, we are all going to die.

We are born, we pay taxes and we are all going to die. Those three things are definite. Why not say what it is? It is reality.

The reason why we, here at North Otago Budget Advisory Service (Nobas), decided to bring the Death Cafe to Oamaru was because we were seeing many clients dealing with something to do with death.

One couple were left with their parents’ funeral cost, another had a huge debt to the council for burial costs, another had lost her husband and had never been part of paying the accounts or dealing with money.

It isn’t a topic we like to think about, but we should – not in a morbid way, but in a practical and sensible way.

Have you got a will? Do you have enduring powers of attorney? Do you know what that is? I didn’t.

I was asked the question in a group meeting – if I was in a coma in hospital and unable to make decisions for myself, who would make them for me?

I said “well, it would be my hubby”. I’ve been with him for 25 years and I trust him.

Unless I had an enduring power of attorney, it would not be my husband. I would want it to be my husband.

Have you got life insurance?

Life insurance is a backup so when you die your family will be taken care of, or at the very least your funeral will be paid for.

Does your family know if you want to be buried or cremated? Do you want a private or public funeral?

You need to talk to a family member about these things, or write down what you want so the family does know.

Death is a stressful time for family members left behind and having to deal with unexpected costs or worries on top of the grief is terrible, but it can be avoided with some forward thinking and planning.

A good practical free booklet called My Advance Care Plan can be obtained from hqsc.govt.nz. In it you can write your plan for future healthcare and for the end of your life.

Having it written down makes it easier for those left behind.

The library also has a fantastic resource and there are many sites online to browse, such as consumer.org.nz and communitylaw.org.nz.

Our Death Cafe is held every third Wednesday of the month at 7pm at the Reach Church Hall in College St, Oamaru. The next one is on October 16.

Here at Nobas we felt people needed to have an avenue to talk, to gather information and to plan. Come along and enjoy the company, the chat and free coffee and cake.

★ Katrina Kelly is a financial mentor for Family Works and the North Otago Budget Advisory Service co-ordinator.