Mondays with the Mortician: Be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances

Published 9:33 am Monday, February 16, 2015

Eric Weerts

Mondays with the Mortician

“My aunt Joyce and I planned a trip together when I was young. We were going to California to see her sister, my other aunt, Carol. We ended up driving from Iowa because airplane tickets were too expensive. When we arrived at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, my aunt had very acute chest pains. I rushed her to the nearest hospital and within a few hours, she died. I couldn’t believe that our enjoyable trip turned into a nightmare within a matter of hours. I was only about 16 years old and I had no idea what to do.”



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This scenario is certainly frightening, yet somehow very real. A death in one’s family is hard enough, let alone having the death occur away from home.  So the question that will surface is, “What should I do if a loved one dies away from home?”

The first thing that you should do is to contact your local funeral home. The importance of contacting your hometown funeral home is that they are the quickest, most efficient resource you have in dealing with this situation. They will most likely know your family and act in a prompt, professional manner to get your loved one back home. They will contact a funeral home in the area for assistance. Your hometown funeral home will arrange for professional services from the other funeral home to have your loved one brought back home. They will usually embalm the body of the deceased and ship him or her via air freight on a major commercial carrier. Then your hometown funeral director will go to the airport and take the deceased into its care. Dependent upon the wishes of the family the body may be cremated at the place of death and the cremated remains are mailed to your local funeral home.

Retirees who winter in Florida, Arizona, or elsewhere are another example. If you have family members who winter in other areas of the country, let them know that should death occur, it is possible for their remains to be brought back for burial and local services.

These steps would be taken in the event of a death while travelling internationally as well. If you or your loved one is traveling outside of the country and a death occurs, contact your hometown local funeral home first. Your hometown funeral home will contact the consulate for that country for the correct procedure and all necessary paperwork to bring your loved one back home.

Traveling should always be an enjoyable experience. Most of us have photos and/or videos of our travels. Knowing what to do in case of an unforeseen death of someone you care about is important to understand and something to keep with you in case such an unfortunate occurrence should happen.

Eric Weerts is one of the funeral directors at Mayer Funeral Home.