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Let’s Talk about Religion, Death, and Taxes

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By: Ben Bloom, Owner of Homewatch CareGivers serving Oakland

So, I’m pretty comfortable with the traditionally unpleasant subjects of religion, death, and taxes (politics not so much). Partially because I have worked in each of these areas and partially because they are universal experiences. Everyone has some relationship with religion; atheist, devout, or cultural, Religion is a part of one’s identity. We are all born, grow older, and eventually pass away. And whether or not we like it, all of us have to pay our taxes. I think these are subjects we should all talk about, and plan for.

Many of the people we work with who need our in-home care services are living in their final years of life or with a chronic condition, and so we find ourselves having talks about religion, death, and even taxes more often than one might expect. As a result of these experiences, such topics are top of mind and perhaps worth bringing up directly for more general discussion.

Some might say that when you know yourself spiritually, death is no longer something to shy away from. Spirituality, or lack thereof, can give the discussion of death and dying a framework. And by framing the unfamiliar subject of death in a familiar context we can give it personal meaning. When death comes, as it does for us all, we can be prepared. One can make legal, financial, and even tax plans before our eventual demise.

How do you plan for religion? First off, your religious expression is your own and by action or omission you have followed a plan to get to where you are today. Religion can be a product of upbringing, environment, and habit but it often takes effort, practice, and discipline.

Even after someone passes away, they pay taxes. Taxes don’t have to be something macabre though. With a little education and time (and maybe a good CPA) annual tax preparation can be a relatively painless affair. Similarly, after death, the Estate Tax or Probate process begins, and with advance planning it can be orderly and peaceful for your decedents.

If religion, death, or taxes makes you uncomfortable, then I encourage you to talk about it with someone. By talking openly, we make room for our discomfort. That leads to growth and eventually to acceptance. You may never be completely comfortable with these three subjects; that’s okay because besides politics these can be the three most difficult topics to discuss for many people.

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