When Loved Ones Are Geographically Dispersed


When Loved Ones Are Geographically Dispersed

When Loved Ones Are Geographically Dispersed.

We live in a world where family and friends are geographically dispersed. The wonderful aspect is that you have interesting places to visit for vacations and celebrations, but the shadow side is that you are so far away when there is a medical emergency or when someone dies. This is why it is so important to have advance directives, so that loved ones know what to do or how they can best help when there is some urgency or crisis.

Sometimes, people are unable to travel on short notice for a funeral. They feel badly that they cannot attend, so what are some practical ideas to help navigate and honor the loss?


  • Have a memorial service where you are. This is one way to express your feelings, pay tribute to the person who died and get the emotional support that you need.
  • Have a memorial service sometime after the funeral, when you are able to travel to that location or choose a convenient place for family and friends to convene.
  • Send a gift card to assist with expenses, travel or meals.
  • Send a sympathy card with photographs or personal reflections on how the deceased person positively imprinted you.
  • Sign the online guest book on the death notice or funeral home website.
  • Offer to put together a DVD tribute that can be emailed.
  • Write words of tribute that can be emailed and then read at the funeral.
  • Ask if there will be a recording of the service.
  • Offer a poem or prayer that can be shared at the funeral service.
  • Offer to transport people who are traveling to or from the airport.
  • Make a contribution in honor of the person who died; consult with the bereaved family or the funeral director for specific guidance.

Years ago, and still today, immigrants were not able to travel back and forth for happy or sad occasions. Today, there are more opportunities to travel, but there are still many reasons why people cannot physically attend services, even though they wish they could. Think of creative ways that you can assist.


Marguerite O’Connor, M.Ed.

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