I’m presently writing while traveling, and I received the unfortunate news that my aunt had passed while I am halfway around the world. I feel it is a topic to discuss as my fellow readers, frequent travelers themselves, can encounter this sad and unfortunate situation. Death is an inevitable occurrence which rattles one’s cage. Notification of such an event when you are unable to hold those in need of comfort is especially difficult. There are ways in which one can be there from afar while also making sure, whether your travels are for business or leisure, the tasks at hand are carried out.
I compiled a go-to list for handling a death while traveling, as this has not been my first — and possibly not my last. It’s not a simple or light subject, but connecting with the world around us may result in a disconnect with our loved ones during unexpected times of grief. Here are my recommendations when coping and consoling from afar:
- Understand the concrete and the abstract: What occurred? How has it happened? Who will this affect most? Understand the finality of the news and take a breath and offer condolences.
- Logistics: Does the person’s estate rely on you to be present or connect regarding financial or other matters? If so, figure out your plan of action to connect with the proper contacts and make it clear whether you are traveling internationally or domestically and your timeline for arriving. If you cannot make it in, but know there are aspects for which you should have legal representation or a proxy present, find the best solution and make plans from there.
- Contacting those necessary: It is important to connect with those individuals you feel you are responsible for informing. They should hear it from someone close rather than from an obituary posted online or in the local news outlets. Remember to comfort and connect with those from afar who need to be checked on; sometimes a call makes all the difference.
- Present or having a presence: If you are able to rearrange meetings or travel plans, it is ideal to try to make it for the services to honor your loved one. If you cannot be present, ask what you may contribute if the deceased is a close relative, or send a comforting gift or donation to a cause if the family has assigned one.
- Take care of yourself as well: Grieving has no set timeline. While you are busy traveling, you may not be able to adjust totally to the loss. Taking time to understand the void of this individual’s absence is important on the journey to healing. Take care of others but remember yourself.
I know this is not an easy or cheerful topic, but I hope it proves useful for my fellow travelers. We cannot plan when death occurs, so it is best to think about travel insurance and methods of transport should an incident occur to your personally.
— Stephanie Makowski, account executive
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