How to approach end of life planning when your family live abroad

How to approach end of life planning when your family live abroad

Our increasingly global society has made the world feel much smaller. We're becoming incredibly mobile and in many industries it’s easier than ever to move between cities or countries for an exciting job.

Many people use email and social media platforms to feel close to family back home whilst building a new life abroad. Regular use of these types of digital media tend to make family members feel closer than they really are.

It’s often only when we have to make a hard decision, or need to have an important conversation, that family members living abroad feel far away. This can make talking about passing preferences and repatriation very difficult.

Read on for my advice about how to approach end of life planning with relatives who live far away from you.

When to begin discussing end of life decisions.

Everyone has different feelings about the timing of end of life planning. Ultimately it comes down to the relationship you have with your family, and often to your family’s level of pragmatism.

It’s a good idea to begin discussions as early as you feel comfortable. The more open and relaxed family conversations about passing preferences are, the easier the end of life process will be for everyone.

One of the reasons I encourage early planning is an increased feeling of control for everyone involved. Open discussions minimise the stress and anticipatory grief common in the final stages of life. They also help to minimise confusion about a relative’s wishes after they have passed away.

Discussing passing preferences early on is particularly important for geographically dispersed families, as predicting each other's wishes is even more difficult than usual. Plus, logistical issues such as time zones or language barriers can tend to make planning ceremonies from abroad tricky without prior guidance.

Also, depending on the situation there may be complications such as repatriation to bring up early on. This will help ensure the smoothest possible process for your whole family.

How to bring up end of life decisions.

When you live far away from close family, starting a discussion about your passing preferences can seem hard. Thankfully though, due to the flexible nature of online communication it’s becoming easier than ever to reach out to relatives who've moved away.

A good way to plan the conversation is to schedule a phone call or Skype session with your close family members. Before the scheduled time, make a short list of topics you want to cover. It works best to run through all topics in one go so the call ends with a clear plan.

Of course, it’s your decision as to whether you wish to tell your family that you want to discuss passing preferences before you call them. If your family is fairly practical, logical and direct, it’s a good idea to give them a heads up - that way they can mentally prepare for the conversation.

On the other hand, if your family is more emotionally driven a less direct approach can work well. This may involve weaving the topic of passing away into a phone call by casually bringing up the death of someone famous or fictional. 

From there it can be easier to segue into the topic of individual passing preferences by using open ended questions like “Have you ever thought about where you would like to be laid to rest?”.  

End of life decisions to discuss.

The most important topic to raise with family members living abroad is repatriation. Repatriation involves laying someone to rest somewhere other than the place where they passed away.

If international transit is on the cards for someone you know, it’s best to involve a specialised funeral director who can help you navigate the process. Preparations need to be made in line with the receiving country’s policies, legislation and transport system.

Other important preferences to talk about with your family are the nature of the funeral ceremony, body disposition wishes and any relevant financial issues. 

About us

LAF homepage video

Our compassionate all-female team are dedicated to supporting families in their times of need. We arrange beautiful personalised funeral services in the Ryde area.



Recent Posts

We're here to help

Lady Anne Funerals is here to support and assist your family through what can be a difficult time, with a ladies touch. 

We are available to discuss a range of services to support your family, including: 

  • Personalised memorial services
  • Cremation and burial services
  • Religious services catering to all faith's
  • No service, no attendance 

Please get in touch - night or day - via the form or you can call us on the number below.

Phone: 1300 74 00 74

904 Victoria Road, West Ryde 2114

Let's Talk

Some of the families we've helped

“I just wanted to send you our sincerest thanks for everything you and your incredible team did for us in making the most perfect day, celebration and farewell of our beautiful Harper.

I have given a lot of thought to your business and the industry and I think it is perhaps the most important business for families to get it right when it comes to planning a funeral which may be sudden or may be a long time in the making. Either way, when one is faced with the unfortunate situation of needing to arrange a funeral, only then do you realise the importance of getting it right.

We experienced first hand the polar opposites the industry offers. It is not just about the cars, the booklets, the music and all the things that make up the day - its about the service, the care and most importantly it’s about the people.

From our very first conversation we could sense your genuine care to our situation and your attention to detail was obvious - this was very different to the previous conversations we had with others we had been referred to. Those other companies wanted to commence meetings with the paperwork side of things upfront which is a very confronting thing to do just days after losing your loved one - and when one of the others that I am referencing couldn’t even refernece our daughters name as our meeting started - we were horrified of how poor the service of care could be.

This is where you and your team shine. After feeling very lost in our search to secure the perfect funeral director to create the perfect day, my wife all of a sudden recalled you standing out the front of your office each morning watering the surrounding gardens to ensure a beautiful front of house. Well, I can assure you, it is not just the front of house that is beautiful - its the entire package that is beautiful.

Your manner, your direction and your expertise is evident from the get go. Nothing is too hard for you or your amazing team. The personal care made us feel like we were the only funeral you were working with at the time, and that’s exactly how it should be.

The finer detail, such as driving past our house so our daughter could go past our house one last time, then leaving the most beautiful flowers on our doorstep, to bumping into us at the Church because you were just doing your own research to make sure the day was seamless. This combined with your recommendations from every aspect as everything was very foreign to us, you were able to guide us to achieve the most beautiful farewell.

The day itself was simply perfect. Not once did we have a concern. The car was shining, your team dressed beautifully, cold water provided for us, directions for our guests, directions for us. Everyone commented on how amazing the day was and how incredibly your team were. Seamless is the only word I can use. It doesn’t stop here.

Your personal care and guidance then allowed us a more intimate farewell the following day (we are so grateful for for this recommendation and possibly would have missed this special day if you had suggested it was the best idea). Again, you and your team made us feel like you had nowhere else to be, and no one else to help. Just us. The setting was beautiful, the celebrant (that you arrange and recommend) is a delightful, your team make this day even more special than the last.

This is something we never want to go through again but there will be so many others, that like us, have no idea where to start to look for the right funeral director for their own special day. All I can say is that I hope that they appoint Lady Anne Funerals. We learnt a lot quickly and it is again a business many do not ever consider needing but without question one of the most important businesses to select the right person and the right team.

I welcome any of your future potential clients to contact me if they wish to discuss our experience with the amazing Lady Anne team. We thank you for giving our beautiful baby the most incredible farewell that was exactly how we imagined it, you just made it happen.”

Lee Dowdall

“We wish to thank you for having helped us put together a beautiful farewell for our mother, one which she would have been delighted with.

It was a difficult day and it would have been worse without your synchronised, seamless and consistent presence as well as attention to detail.

We value your candour as the people you are and the very sensitive manner in which you conducted the service.

Thanking you from the bottom of our hearts,

The Pastore Family
Karen has supported my Mum and me through the most difficult week of our lives as we not only planned a funeral, but interred my Dad to his new home. I will be forever grateful to Karen for her ongoing support, guidance, kindness, empathy and friendship over the last week. Karen has now become part of our extended circle of close family friends.
Daughter of the late Sveta Dordevich
Lady Anne Funerals has the compassion, understanding and empathy that many of the larger funeral homes do not possess. My aunts funeral was dignified and classy everything she deserved. I would highly recommend Lady Anne (and have) as they go above and beyond.
Joanne Marks
I am overwhelmed with the feedback on how beautiful it all was from all who attended. You and the other ladies were wonderful, looked so elegant, and made the day so very special for all who loved Paul.
Barbara Sommerville Enright
Karen and her staff treated us with the utmost respect we could not have been in better hands during this difficult time. My mum had organised her funeral with a prepaid funeral plan which she had purchased from Karen almost ten years ago this also made this upsetting time much easier to deal with and she got all the things that she wished for.
Malcolm Ellis
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank Lady Anne Funerals for a beautiful service yesterday for my aunt Dot. All who attended commented on how lovely the service was & the professionalism of all the staff. Thanks again very much for helping making a sad day one of celebration of Dot’s life.
Judith Neville

Related Articles

Understanding Grief: Am I in shock? And how do I move past it?

The loss of any loved one for many, is often the most stressful experience in our life. Our individual reaction to death varies for a multitude of reasons. Our gender, prior exposure to trauma and our general lifetrue
Read More

6 questions to ask a grieving friend

Everyone processes grief differently. When you have varying personality types and circumstances, it can make it extremely difficult to know what to say to a grieving friend.

Read More