There are very few families today that reside in the same town, city or region. Career and/or military opportunities, medical requirements and weather are all factors in where we live. Many Americans look to move to milder climates and locations with a lower cost of living when they retire. You may also travel for business, if you are still active in your career/business.
What does this mean? You or your loved one may die far away from family and even friends. Away from your house of worship and selected burial site.
You will need to bring the body home – potentially across state lines or international borders. What do you do now?
The quickest course of action is to contact the funeral home, which you will be using for the body preparation and funeral. Most funeral homes will either have had experience in this process, or will be able to reach out through one of their associations – the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association or a state organization.
You need to be aware that the transport of cadavers is regulated by law, addressing such things as whether or not the body has to be embalmed prior to transportation or whether a permit is needed within the US.
Internationally, requirements may vary by country. The NFDA maintains a list of country-specific requirements at their website. Click on the Useful Resources side box for their website.
The body may be transported by either ground or air, but for Jews and Muslims, the only realistic option is by air to conform to their burial rites. And be aware that the cost of transportation may be similar to the cost of the funeral.
The National Funeral Directors Association maintains a list of country-specific requirements on their website
If the body is to be cremated, you may want to consider having the body cremated by a crematorium in the area where your loved one passed, and have the cremains sent back home for a memorial service.
When my father died, I was in Europe and could not get back to the US, as a hurricane was pounding the entire east coast, and I could not get through to any of the airlines, much less get a flight. My mother and sister said farewell to him at the crematorium, and we had a memorial service the following month, when I could come home.
In general, transporting cremains is easier than a cadaver. You have the options to ship the urn by land or to transport the remains with you when you travel – even on a plane. There are guidelines, which need to be followed, but cremated remains are generally permitted in carry-on luggage.
However, a friend shared with me that when she went to travel home with her father’s ashes on the plane, the TSA officer had to open the urn and search inside for weapons/contraband. If this causes you concern, be aware that they can be shipped by UPS or FedEx back to your residence. My mother had the crematorium ship my father’s ashes for her.
Again, we recommend that you check with the funeral home/crematorium that was selected – and possibly pre-paid – for their assistance and guidance.
Green funeral services are becoming more and more popular and tend to be simpler, more environmentally friendly, and often consider conservation of nautal resources. Also, green, hybrid, or natual funerals may be less costly - another factor that has added to its appeal.
Green funeral service options are available through many traditional funeral homes, but you will need to do your research. Accredited 'green' funeral homes can help with the requirements for the burial (shrouds or green caskets), embalming (only biodegradable and non-toxic solutions), and cremation (lower carbon emission and no metal remains in the body).
If a green burial is preferred, there may be restrictions in terms of where the remains may be placed, what sort of marking may be allowed, and whether or not embalming is permitted.
Ask the funeral director for additional information.
Check out The Green Burial Council for more...
Funeral? Cremation? Green Funeral? Etc.
Most often, the funeral home arranges for death certificates. Always get extras!
Services and obituaries personalize the passing and often help with closure
Reminders on calls to make and notifications to pass along
Step-by-step guide on what to do first. Calls, paperwork, care arrangements, etc.
Detailed guide to preparing or fulfilling final wishes
Next hurdle - how to handle financial records and accounts
Key reiminders on securing residences - owned and rented, apartments and houses - after a loved one's death
What you need to know to protect and eliminate the deceased's digtial presence
Don't forget subscriptions, memberships, and more...
Funny, helpful and special stories shared by others to help you through the process
For each section, download and personalize a pdf checklist