If your loved one passes away while away from home, the added stressors of getting the body home and making the necessary arrangements can feel insurmountable. What do you do? Whom do you call? What is the proper procedure to follow? As with everything in life, the more information you have ahead of time, the better prepared you will be to deal with this difficult matter efficiently.
Make Measured Decisions
If someone you love has passed away and you are out of your element, it is easy to fall into panic and do the first thing that feels “right.” However, always think through what you are about to do; consider even asking a friend or family member if your thinking is rational.
For example, if you are with the deceased, you may feel that you need to start planning for transport and funeral services right away. However, it is highly recommended by authorities that you do not leave a body unattended. In most cases, a sudden death is cause for at least some investigation and it is certainly a good idea for any family member or friend to be present for such proceedings.
On the other hand, if you are not with your loved one when they pass, you may be tempted to jump on the first plane that will get you to them. While this may be the best decision for you, consider that it does not have to be the only one. There is no longer a pressing need for family members to travel long distances to identify bodies, this can be done virtually. Additionally, you may find that there is more to be done at home.
Whatever you choose to do, give yourself time and space to absorb what has happened and allow yourself to get to a place where you feel comfortable making decisions.
Know Your Options
In the case that you are faced with the transportation and care of a loved one’s body, it is important to be familiar with the options you have available.
Understand that if you are not capable of taking care of the necessary proceedings, you always have the option of reaching out to a funeral director. This is most often the easiest way to handle the situation; a funeral home is familiar with the process and will be able to advise you on how you can help without overwhelming you.
If you are with your loved one at the time of death and decide that you are capable of transporting the body yourself, know that you are allowed to do so. Currently, only three states require embalming when crossing state lines—Alabama, Alaska and New Jersey.
Finally, in some cases you may be able to arrange for burial wherever the body is located. While this is not usually a first choice, if money or logistics are a concern, it can be a legitimate option. You may also opt to cremate locally; transporting cremains is quite a bit easier.
While it may feel morbid or unnecessary to think of dying when you are on vacation or traveling, the sad reality is that no one is immune to death. Familiarize yourself with all the necessary costs and procedures associated with handling and transporting a body in the area to which you are traveling.
Keep in mind that bereavement airfares are mostly a thing of the past and you are better off finding good airfare deals through discount search engines.
In short, be informed, be prepared and you will not be caught unawares.