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What Do I Do if a Death Occurs Out of Town?

March 1, 2019

It can be a difficult time when a loved one dies, but when the death occurs away from home, it can be even more complicated and stressful. Nowadays, people tend to spend extended time away from home for vacation, to visit relatives, to attend special events or to live in warmer climes during the winter months – all of which contributes to the possibility of a death away from home.

Photo credit: Ana Blazic Pavlovic /

When a loved one dies out of town, it is not necessary for the family of the deceased to be directly involved in setting up transportation of their loved one. The first step is to contact the funeral home of their choice at the location where the funeral will take place.

“The most important thing to do when a death occurs away from home is to call your hometown funeral director,” said John Keohane, Co-President of Keohane Funeral Home. “He or she will be able to make the needed arrangements and help the family avoid any unnecessary costs, coordinate with local authorities and engage the necessary services of a local funeral home.”

The hometown funeral home, where the funeral will take place, will do all of the coordinating on behalf of the family. They will contact a funeral home in the area where the person has passed, and arrange for the transportation to bring the loved one home. Most funeral homes have relationships with world-wide agencies that specialize in ensuring the safety of your loved one.

If the distance is not too far, the deceased may be transported by land – either by train or by a vehicle from the funeral home or mortuary. If the deceased is transported across state lines, some states require the body to be embalmed for transport while others do not. Your local funeral director will advise you.

However, if the distance is farther away, the deceased may be transported by air. Again, the Keohane staff is carefully trained to know the rules and regulations and to assist you in making the arrangements that will suit your needs, comply with pertinent laws, and save you money wherever possible.

A Death Abroad

If a loved one dies outside of the United States, the family should contact the United States Consulate in the country in which the death occurred. The U.S. Department of State can also be contacted for further help and information. Certain documents and paperwork are required by law by both the United States and foreign countries before remains can be sent from one country to another. Those documents may vary depending on the circumstances of the death and the countries involved. Your hometown funeral director will assist you with these arrangements.

While most families prefer to bring their loves one home for ceremonies prior to making irreversible decisions, some may wish to have cremation occur prior to returning their loved one home. As long as the TSA and airline rules are followed, cremated remains can either be carried on or shipped home. However, this may deny family and friends the needed closure and funeral rites that most find critical for healing.

No matter where death occurs, calling your hometown funeral director is essential for getting the care you need. For more information on this, or any questions at all, please contact one of our knowledgeable funeral directors at any of our locations or call our main office at 1-800-Keohane (800-536-4263).


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