The death of someone you love is a shocking and terrible experience, but being informed of the death of a loved one when you are miles away from home significantly compounds and complicates your grief.
Thinking practically in times of grief
Traveling overseas can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s natural for many long-term travelers to have feelings of guilt over missing things that are going on back home. Births, weddings, graduations and other celebrations can be shared from afar through phone calls, video chats, pictures and social media, but the death of a loved one presents unique challenges for overseas travelers.
You may experience a profound sense of guilt that can make the decision of whether or not to return home for a loved one’s funeral or cremation services particularly tricky. You must consider the cost, distance and time involved in making a sudden change to your travel plans.
While some airlines still offer emergency bereavement fares at a discount, the process of qualifying for one of these tickets can be lengthy, requiring certain proof and documents to which you may not have access.
If you need an emergency flight home, your best bet is to contact the airline by phone. Not only can you access unpublished and last-minute fares, but speaking with an informed individual and having the chance to explain your situation can be extremely helpful.
Be open to options you may not have considered, such as flight plus rental car packages, alternate airports and red-eye or connecting flights to get you home as quickly as possible.
Make sure you have your passport, visas and any other identifying documentation up-to-date and readily available, especially if you’ll need to pass through multiple countries on your way back to the United States.
Grieving from afar
If you can’t get home, there are ways you can grieve from a distance. Besides, many people use travelling, as a form of treatment when feeling sadness in their lives.
It is one of the most difficult things to do as an overseas traveler; having to acknowledge the loss of a person you haven’t seen in quite some time. The ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ reality may be particularly hard to process, because you may be alone in your grief.
To help combat this feeling of isolation and loneliness, contact your family, close friends and anyone who will understand the pain of your loss. Sharing memories and sympathies with others who are grieving can be very cathartic.
Share your feelings with your traveling companions or friends. Even if they didn’t know your loved one, they will offer gestures of compassion and sympathy that can help ease your pain and make you feel less alone.
Using travel to cope
In some cases, returning to travel can help heal your soul after the death of a loved one.
Getting out of your routine, filling your life with beautiful experiences, maintaining an outward focus on the practical matters of traveling and setting yourself on a new path following a loss can help you work through your grief.