Planning a funeral service and getting everything coordinated in a timely fashion while mourning the loss of a loved one is already difficult enough. Having family and friends who live far away only further complicates the mess. When a tragedy strikes it can be a unifying experience being around other family and friends who are going through the same emotional grief as you. Unfortunately, if everyone lives all over the country then planning the funeral to accommodate everybody's needs and work schedules can become near impossible.
Problems You Will Face
When somebody dies in the United States, the funeral is held on average 4-7 days later. There is obviously some lead-way with this time frame. If you are unsure of how much time you have before you have to pick a disposition method to dispose the body, talk to the funeral director at the funeral home you choose.
In most circumstances the main difficulty is getting everyone who lives far away enough travel time. If you live on the east coast but have family all the way on the west coast, it can be a lot of work for them to make arrangements and get to the funeral. This is especially true if it is short notice.
Lets face it travelling is expensive. The cost of traveling all adds up. You have the cost of gas or plane/train tickets, cost for accommodations if they plan on staying at a hotel, food while on the road, and if they are leaving behind a child or a pet they might also be paying for a babysitter or daycare. And let’s not forget about wages lost for missing work. When all these problems add up it suddenly becomes increasingly difficult for an entire family to travel for even a day or two.
How You Can Help
If you are the person planning the funeral you will already have a lot on your plate, but if you really want far away family to attend you might need to take on a few extra responsibilities.
If the funeral is being held locally to where you live then it would be very helpful to provide any information including roads to avoid. If they are flying in for the funeral then picking them up from the airport yourself or even giving them extra Frequent Flyer Miles you have is an excellent way to show your appreciation and love.
If you can recommend good hotels or airbnbs, I am sure the visiting family would be greatly appreciative. Taking this one step further, you can significantly reduce their expenses if you feel comfortable letting them stay at your home.
Do not feel pressured to invite them to your house though. You obviously have a lot going on currently in your life, and if you don’t have the space or just plain don’t want one more possible stressor in your life then do not feel forced to invite them to stay with you.
Please Do Not Expect Them To Travel
It is unfair to your far away family to demand their presence at the funeral. For some of the reasons listed above as well as countless other reasons, it might be impossible for them to attend. If they cannot make the trip it does not mean that they do not care about the death. Regardless of whether family and friends attended, you should show them support and love as everyone is in grieving.
A way to include your distant family without them actually being there is to have a live stream of the funeral. A very accurate and honest experience of watching a live streamed funeral can be found at Kielbasa Stories.
If you are interested, check out How to Plan a Funeral from Beginning to End: A Step by Step Guide for helpful funeral planning advice.