Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and in some cases, the mortal remains are shipped home as a cargo via air freight. Having a relative pass away in a foreign country can make a traumatic event even worse. Like any traveller, the deceased needs documentation to travel too. And collecting the remains to send home is challenging given the different requirements and regulations of each country.
Our recent repatriation was a new experience as it was carried out in the midst of a global pandemic with additional requirements for entry and limited flight options. It was a successful event nonetheless, as the deceased was transferred from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to Chennai International Airport. The journey took nearly 20 hours from the time of departure to arrival including a layover at Kuala Lumpur. The transfer continued on with a 15-hours drive from Chennai to Visakhapatnam (Vizag), home of the deceased.
Apart from logistic arrangement, measures were taken to ensure that the remains arrive in good condition despite the long arduous journey. Seeing how the family members gathered around to receive the deceased, grieving but appreciating the timely arrival of their loved one goes to show that every detail in the planning is crucial.