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The Plane Truth

Fear of flying is a common condition. Fear of travelling by car is much rarer. Logically you might expect it to be the other way around, because the risks are so much smaller in the sky than they are on the roads. But it’s hard to govern your life and emotions by logic. And the media don’t help: they feed fear of flying and mostly ignore the risks of the roads. Car-crashes happen every hour of every day in every country on earth, killing many thousands of people year after year, but they rarely make the national news unless several people are killed at once or a celebrity is involved.

A jet-liner crash, by contrast, wins immediate international headlines and can stay in the news for days. It’s a rare event, but it’s a spectacular and memorable one. This focus on a rare but shocking danger contributes to the fear many people feel about flying. But there are other factors at work too. In a plane we depend entirely on the pilot, the ground staf and the technology of the plane. If something goes wrong high in the sky, there’s no possible escape. If the plane crashes at high speed as it’s coming in to land, the chances of escape are little better.

It doesn’t seem like that in a car. Safety seems much nearer at hand. We’re still on the ground after all and advancing technology – airbags, computer-assisted steering and so on – means that cars are much safer than they were twenty or thirty years ago, let alone in their early days. So it becomes hard to remember that planes – those giant pieces of metal that leap into the sky – are much safer still. Cars feel more natural and when we are the driver we feel confident and in control.

There may be another consideration, however. If we die in a car-crash, we may subconsciously feel that our death will have a kind of importance and significance that it would lack if we died in a plane-crash instead. When a plane crashes, the dead are sometimes numbered in the hundreds. That is why plane-crashes can seem so horrible and attract so much attention in the media, but they also mean that the deaths of individuals seem less significant. It’s like the differences between a war and a duel. Both wars and duels have opposing sides, but in a war the opposing sides are huge groups. In a duel, it’s one person against another person.

So a duel is obviously more personal and has a significance for the individuals involved in a way that a war doesn’t. And perhaps this reasoning also applies to car-crashes and plane-crashes. When we pass away, we want our departure to have meaning and significance. We don’t want to be lost in a crowd and to have our lives overshadowed by the horror of a huge event like a plane-crash. Maybe it’s not rational or logical to think like that, but human beings can’t behave like robots. Emotions matter and so do our feelings about whether we have control over our lives – and over what happens to us when we pass away.

That’s where a funeral plan comes in. We can’t remove all danger from life and we can’t live for ever, but we can try to make our own choices and we can certainly choose the way we are buried and the kind of funeral service we have. By doing so in good time, we can make the best possible choices and save the maximum amount of money. Despite the advance of technology, life is becoming less certain and secure, not more so, and funeral plans offer us an ever more valuable space to find security and peace of mind.