Family Death Overseas

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Rain Dog
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Family Death Overseas

Post by Rain Dog » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:14 pm

I guess this is the week for morbid threads considering Phuket Richard's "Pull the Plug" thread.

I just learned today my Mom has passed away back in the USA. I write this not hoping for sympathy or condolences as it is something all of us go through and likely many of us have been through already. In fact I had to bury my dad about 25 years ago when I was far less mature to deal with these things.

What I am looking for is a sense of perspective, preferably from those of you who have been out of your home countries for many years. The issue I have is whether I fly back for a symbolic presence at a funeral. As background, My Mom has had many "issues" and neither myself nor my sister has had any contact with her for over 10 years. In fact i Have only seen or spoken to her 4 or 5 times over the past 20 years. There is no sense of loss on my side only some sadness and regret.

My sister is on site and able to handle the administrative aspects. A funeral would likely be held with only sister and maybe one or two friends attending. I really do not want to go (for time, financial, and emotional reasons) and my sister says it would be pointless and unnecessary. Yet a part of me reminds me of "duty and responsibility" and I wonder how much I would regret not taking the long and costly journey back as the Prodigal Son.

As Murphy's law would have it my Passport is with a Visa service and will not be back until friday Pm -- so I have a day or two to mull it over.

Any informed perspective would be appreciated.

Meanwhile this served as a good reminder for me to tell my sister that should she ever be contacted as my "next of kin" that an incinerator and a dump into the Mekong would be fully satisfactory in my case -- with no need for her to fly out here and do anything.
Last edited by Rain Dog on Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Kung-fu Hillbilly
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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:23 pm

Really sorry to hear that, RD, and I have had a similar experience. As far as whether you should return, practical reasons aside, I think that is only a decision you can make based on your relationship with your mum. Would she have wanted you to be at her funeral, or would she have preferred you carry on where you are?

Five years ago I was living in Sumatra when I received an email to get back home as mother had only a couple of weeks to live. I got going the next morning and had to get a ferry, then a five hour bus ride, flight to KL, then flight to Perth. It took me twenty four hours to get home. As I arrived they were wheeling her corpse out of the house and into the ambulance.
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Rain Dog
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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by Rain Dog » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:47 pm

Kung-fu Hillbilly wrote:Really sorry to hear that, RD, and I have had a similar experience. As far as whether you should return, practical reasons aside, I think that is only a decision you can make based on your relationship with your mum. Would she have wanted you to be at her funeral, or would she have preferred you carry on where you are?

Five years ago I was living in Sumatra when I received an email to get back home as mother had only a couple of weeks to live. I got going the next morning and had to get a ferry, then a five hour bus ride, flight to KL, then flight to Perth. It took me twenty four hours to get home. As I arrived they were wheeling her corpse out of the house and into the ambulance.
Thanks for that. Of course it is a lot different when the person is still alive and you sound like you made every possible effort. It reminds me when my dad died. Suffered what was described as a very mild stroke and treated and released. I debated rushing home (about an 8 hour drive) but was assured all was ok and went off to a ballgame with a bunch of buddies. Got home and had about 20 urgent messages on my answering machine (no mobile in those days) talking about a second stroke. I rushed an 8 hour drive home late night/early morning and full of stadium beer only to find dad brain dead but on a respirator. For that effort I got to be the one to decide whether to "pull the plug".

Carried that with me a long time.
Last edited by Rain Dog on Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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frank lee bent
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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by frank lee bent » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:51 pm

Condolences Friend.

My Dad passed aged 93 in January after a lengthy in home hospice period.

I had always feared that I may not be able to make it back there due to financial circumstances.
The fact that I was able to go there was a great support to my Mother.

In the aftermath of his death, I have become a lot less worried about my own eventual demise, I feel a lot calmer now.
I have not been able to work out why.
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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by giblet » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:22 pm

I'm sorry, RD. Sometimes losing an estranged parent can be more difficult than one you were close with. Personally, I wouldn't factor my relationship with the family member who passed so much as my relationship with who is left. If you think your sister or other relatives would be grateful for your presence, I'd go.
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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by LTO » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:31 pm

So sorry to hear this. My deepest sympathies.

My thought, and what i intend to do when faced with this same decision, if at all possible, fly back. Regret is a tough and lasting thing. In the short term flying back will cause some financial pain and inconvenience, but that will fade with time. In the long term it is unlikely you will regret returning for this, but it is possible that you'll regret it if you don't, and it can't be taking back later. For sake of future peace of mind, I would do this now.
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Joon
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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by Joon » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:39 pm

My condolences, Rain Dog.

As for your call for counsel, I would agree with LTO and Giblet.

But it is up to you in the end and you know your family, entourage and circumstances the best.
The only thing I would advise is to lead one's life with the purpose at the end to be able to look back and have no regret whatsoever about things you could have done but didn't and things you shouldn't have done but did.
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Jaap N.
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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by Jaap N. » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:19 pm

I was travelling around in Iran when my mother's dementia severly deteriorated in 2009. To this day I'm very happy I decided to go back. Fortunately I was in time and we could say our goodbyes to her as a family, everyone was present and she had a very lucid hour or two before she went into a coma and had a severe abdominal bleeding. She passed away a few days later.

RD, my sincere condolences with the loss of your mother. I strongly agree with Joon, LTO and giblet! Whatever you decide: good luck!
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ali baba
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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by ali baba » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:10 pm

My grandfather died a couple of years ago. I didn't return for the funeral despite being somewhat close to him. He had been ill for a long time and it was expected as his condition deteriorated. I've never regretted the decision or even thought about it until seeing this thread.

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Re: Family Death Overseas

Post by StroppyChops » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:39 pm

I know you're not looking for condolences RD, but sorry for your loss. My 2c worth is that if there is ANY chance that in the future you might regret not having gone, you should go. Even if this is in terms of other family relationships, and how those relationships might look later.

Grief is a strange thing, and I've learned that there are two things we might grieve for: the way things actually were (for those lucky enough to have had good family relationships), and the way we wished they could have been (for the rest of us). Those of us that had a difficult time of it often find it so much harder laying down the burden when someone passes, because now there is NO chance it will ever be different. We knew it wouldn't change, but now it can't, and that's a deeper form of grief.

Not attempting to lecture you, RD, this is for my ongoing benefit as much as anyone else. Sorry for your pain, man.
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