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  • Writer's pictureAya

If you lost a family member at home while you live abroad

Updated: May 27, 2019

My father-in-law passed away recently. It was very sad but I can’t deny that we were lucky that we were living close enough to send my husband to a hospital around midnight and he could go back and forth for a few days. It was unfortunate, but we were lucky that we don’t have to worry about leaving my mother-in-law alone after everything was over. We miss him and will miss him every event and occasion we get together, but at least, the rest of us will be able to be together.

But what would the situation be if we were living in a different country? Or what can we do if it was my side of the family in Japan?

It is always difficult to deal with death especially someone special. It can happen out of the blue or you might have heard the news that someone is sick for a while. Either way, you are desperate to be there with him/her, family members and/or friends at home. But it can be difficult to do that when you live far away. You might experience the hardship due to the time differences when you want to talk to people in your home country. And it can be more painful to go through the loss of your loved one when you are in a foreign country.

It is also possible that someone at home gets sick and you visit him/her for a week or two. Then, you have to leave him/her behind to go back where you live. It might be difficult to visit him/her every week or every month.

However, this is very realistic for expats and their families. Unlike to drive 20 minutes or 6 hours in the same country, it might take a day or two to go back home from overseas especially if you need to take a flight. Or sometimes it might be impossible to leave your work/life in the host country for weeks. Also, the funeral/ceremony might have been finished by the time you get there.

However, I’d like you to remember:

>It’s not your fault even if you can’t be there and/or with family members when it happens. So don’t blame yourself

>There might be nobody who knows the person in your host country, but you can talk to people about your loss, how important he/she was to you. To be listened by someone helps a lot


Also, please note:

>It is nice to have a local network with people (either/both local people or/and other expats). You need to support each other when you are heartbroken and in terrible pain

>It is advisable to discuss with your parents/siblings/family members about their Living Wills

>It is also wise to save some money for an urgent trip home

>You can have your own ceremony where you are. If you can’t attend a funeral/ceremony at home, you can have your own

It is ideal if you won’t be in the situation. However, you won't be able to control this.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.


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I would love to hear your story.


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