Most people do have some arrangements preplanned for services at funeral homes in Washington Crossing, PA for themselves or their loved ones, but almost no one plans on having to deal with a death that happens out of the country or overseas, or having to bring a body home.
If you lose a loved one while they’re traveling, the stress of that death is usually compounded by the question: “what do I do now?” The process of bringing a body home, called body repatriation, can take a long time and a mountain of paperwork, so it’s best to get started as soon as you can. Move quickly and efficiently to make sure that you stay on top of all that needs to be done.
Generally, the local embassy of the country where the person died will contact the United States State Department, who will in turn notify the appropriate next of kin. That’s when it’s time to get moving with an executed and signed Next-of-kin Affidavit and a Letter of Instruction that details your wishes for the body’s repatriation. There are some instances in which confirmation of the deceased is tricky, so the next-of-kin may be asked to provide dental or medical records to assist with confirming the identification of the body.
The exact process of body repatriation can differ slightly from country to country, but it’s important that you follow the laws of the country where the death occurred. There are generally three different methods of body repatriation:
- Local Cremation and Return of Cremains – Local Cremation and Return of Cremains Cremation is usually available in most countries. However, cremation might be more costly or less available in countries that are predominately Muslim or Catholic.
- Local Burial – Local burial is possible if the country in which the death occurred allows for burial of foreign nationals. The local embassy will generally make burial arrangements and send the next-of-kin the details.
- Preparation and Return of an Embalmed Body. In this method the body is embalmed at a funeral home in the country where the death occurred and then returned to the USA. Sometimes the embalming standards of the local country are not at the same level as American embalming, so a viewing of the body will not be advisable.
Keep in mind that the next-of-kin will be responsible for all body repatriation costs as the US government does not have funds set aside for these instances. Embalming prior to repatriation is the most expensive, with local cremation and local burial coming behind. Also, it’s important to note that there might be extensive delays in body repatriation if the deceased was a victim of a crime as the local police will need to investigate.
If your family is put in the unfortunate situation of losing a loved one overseas, you need a funeral home you can count on. J. Allen Hooper Funeral Chapel offers Washington Crossing, PA funeral home services with the compassion and expertise needed to help you through this difficult time. Call or visit us today.