Is Dead Happy’s disrespectful look at death – a lesson for later life?

What would make these people “dead happy”

There has always been a minority view that death is too important to be laughed about, but as “Always look on the bright side of life” proves, staring death in the face and laughing at it, is life affirming.

So when , in a rare moment watching terrestrial TV , I came across , my interest was piqued.

Dead happy is cheap and easy life insurance which you buy on need. The idea is that you build the amount of cover you need from totting up the cost of various “death wishes” you have, these can be mundane or extravagant. You can choose to include a wake in Las Vegas or pay off debt – or both.

This idea of buying a financial services product to meet such  needs plays to a number of basic instincts

  1. We like to have a laugh (and laugh in the face of death)
  2. We feel responsible to those we leave behind not to transfer to them our debts
  3. We accept that however unlikely, the value at risk from us dying needs insuring

And the idea that we can have an insurer send our children messages telling them what would happen if we died, is as hilarious to the child as it is to me. And anyone who doesn’t think children can’t think of death, has a sorry memory.

Trivializing death – or reaffirming life?

This kind of storytelling treads a fine line. An early iteration of Deadhappy’s messaging, confined to Facebook,  was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for its strapline

Life insurance to die for

embedded into a picture of a very depressed looking bloke. not the message if you are suicidal. The ASA were right. Life is for living.

Planning for death could and should be a spur to live longer and harder (gather ye rosebuds while ye may). I’ve used this picture before, to remind me of the importance of a good hug. As the Wailers nearly sang

If you know what love is worth, you’d look for it right here on earth!

Carpe diem

Andrew Marvell used the prospect of time’s destructive capacity to woo his coy mistress

The Grave’s a fine and private place

But none I think do there embrace

Not the same with old age?

It is not so easy to laugh about old age. One foot in the grave managed it but nursing homes and geriatric medicine are not happy topics. Nor the slow decline that we experience as we pass into the later stages of life.

But insuring against our living too long, is precisely why we fund pensions. I wonder if we could construct a website , along the lines of “dead happy”, where we could establish a drawdown based on the later life we want to lead, earmarking money for big ticket items and establishing an income to meet the expenses we know we must meet.

Perhaps this is a project for the PLSA as they develop their retirement living standards. No one wants to be “standard”, we all want to be special and if the pension we plan for is peculiar to our “life-wishes”, then a pension becomes not a saving but a spending plan.

Cashflow planning.

Whether you are an actuary or a financial adviser, you know this stuff. Your business is to get the money to the right people, in the right place at the right time. It’s called cashflow planning but has it ever been this much fun?

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Is Dead Happy’s disrespectful look at death – a lesson for later life?

  1. Brinley Davies says:

    “Derek” was a well received comedy about life in a care home. Although you have to get over any aversion you have to Ricky Gervais. Another well received comedy about life in a geriatric ward was “Getting on” with Jo Brand. But these were some years ago and I’m not aware of anything that’s more recent in the UK.

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