Being aware of death influences our money behavior. The research about this behavior is intriguing and instructional—and very important to understand for those of us who work with clients and their money. As a quick and partial overview of what researchers have learned, read "Grim Givers: How Thoughts of Death Open Wallets" (New York Observer). Excerpt:
Yet we humans are practical animals. When confronted with the terrifying vision of our own expiration date, we get to work. We create meaning in our lives by reinforcing our cultural values, erecting buildings, making art, teaching—and writing charitable checks.
There’s even a hypothesis for this. With the alarming name Terror Management Theory, it’s the brainchild of academics Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon and Tom Pyszczynski, who’ve been investigating it for over 25 years.
The idea—set out in their forthcoming book, The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life—is that knowledge of our own death (“mortality salience,” as it’s known) is a powerful force shaping our actions, behaviors and beliefs.