Losing a Loved One from Far Away

The death of a loved one who we haven’t been able to see in person or whose funeral we can’t attend is something many have experienced in the last couple of years. But it’s not something that is only a concern when lockdown rules are in place. The death of a loved one who you are not close to, whether physically or emotionally, can occur at other times too. You might have moved away from family or perhaps you have lost touch with someone you used to be close to. Dealing with the death of a loved one from a distance can be difficult, but there are things you can do to find ways to cope.

If you’re facing the loss of a friend, relative, or even acquaintance from far away, here are some things that might help you.

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Mourn with Others

One of the most important things you can do when you lose anyone is to ensure you’re not doing it alone. This is true anytime someone dies, but it’s especially important to remember if you may be separated from others by distance. Even if the other people who are affected by the loss are not physically close to you, you can still remain in communication with them. You can speak over the phone or use various online channels to talk to each other. Talk about your grief but also remember to talk about the happy times you had with your loved one.

Attending the Funeral Or Memorial

It’s not always easy or even possible to attend a funeral or memorial when someone dies far away from you. You might not have time to get there or it might be too expensive, or there could be another reason preventing you from travelling. If you can arrange to go, you might choose to as a way to mourn with others and say goodbye. If not, there could be other options. Some people opt to set up funeral live streaming so that those not attending in person can watch the proceedings. You might want to discuss this with whoever is organising the funeral, especially if there will be multiple people who can’t attend.

Offer Support

You might feel at a loss for how to lend your support if you are far away. Perhaps you want to lend support to the spouse, parents, or other people who are close to the person who has passed away. But when you’re not in the same location, you can’t do that in person. However, there are other ways you can show your support. You could still do things like helping to make phone calls or make funeral arrangements. Or you could extend a kind gesture such as sending prepared meals or ordering flowers to send to the bereaved.

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Find Bereavement Support Services

Speaking to friends and family can help when you are bereaved, but you might also benefit from getting more professional help. Bereavement services are available to help you find the support that you need. You can find them in person or you can look for online services that offer what you need. You might find therapists or counsellors, or perhaps support groups that provide the support you’re looking for. Online support groups can also make it possible to connect with people you already know.

Navigate Emotional Distance

Sometimes the distance between you and someone who has died isn’t (just) physical, but may be emotional as well. It could be someone from whom you’ve been estranged for a long time or someone you lost contact with. This can make the experience of mourning different again because you may not know what to feel. As well as mourning their death, you might be mourning your lost relationship and that there will no longer be an opportunity to repair it.

Mourning someone when there is an emotional distance can be confusing. It might also mean you need to get in touch with other people who you have a distant or difficult relationship with. In these circumstances, it can be even more important to get support from the people in your life who you are close to or to look for support elsewhere. It could also be an opportunity to reassess your current relationships and consider repairing relationships that might have become weakened or damaged over time. However, it doesn’t have to mean that you should start repairing a relationship that is unhealthy for you.

Dealing with the death of someone from a distance can present certain challenges, but there are ways you can find your own way through it.

Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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