When you never knew that someone died
A friend of mine for many years has died. Aside from the loss, what really impacted me is that it took a long time for me to find out about it.
Long-term travelers, people living overseas or those on a year round the world journey might benefit from this short article.
Joseph was an old school kinda guy. Didn’t take crap from anyone, and made his own way in life. We got on well. We stayed in contact via email throughout my journey.
Over the years Joseph’s always kept in touch, urging me on, enjoying the places I’d visited, as well as filling me in on what’s been happening in his own life.
Last year Joseph got sick. He told me about the treatment, and I asked that he keep me updated. And, he did.
He seemed to be recovering well.
Staying in touch
With anyone traveling long-term you’ll know that emails sometimes come frequently, or infrequently. But, the addresses in your email address book are always there waiting. You tend to just collect them, rarely adding connections to them.
I realized I’d not heard from Joseph for a few months. And so, sent one of those update mails.
And, then another.
No replies … I began to get concerned.
Then, the last one bounced back.
A fear gripped me as I already knew why. But I hoped I was wrong.
I tried calling, but his number was disconnected.
We knew no one else in common.
After a lot of searching and calling, I finally found out my friend had indeed died.
Lessons not many people follow
It would have been easier to find out he’d died if we’d had a lot of mutual friends. But we didn’t. A lesson I share with many is this:
“Out of sight, out of mind”
Joseph’s family didn’t know me that well and certainly didn’t have my email address.
In these days of social networks, email and a life less settled it’s not always feasible in the traditional sense to let people know about private matters like death. Who to tell? Do you send out a message saying someone died. If you don’t know the relative, then you’ll never see the message.
Think about this
Have you met someone while traveling. Become friends with them. Exchanged email addresses e.t.c.,? Have you stayed in contact for a long time?
This is all good.
“But have you figured out what to do if the emails or updates stop?”
Do you know any of their family personally? I think not.
I scoured the internet telephone directories and called many people with Joseph’s name.
I had even asked for him to pass on my information when I learned of his illness to others “just in case“.
Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Who knows.
My point is this. If you are traveling long-term, or living overseas. Make sure to introduce at least one friend from one circle to another.
It’s a long shot, but one that can save you some worry, guilt and grief.
If you make good friends with someone living in another country, simply ask for one of their relatives email. Tell them why if you must, just make sure you have another close contact of theirs.
At least then you might avoid what I’ve been through recently.
A message to Joe:
“So you even managed to be a pain in the ass after you’ve died! Ha ha. But then I guess the world wouldn’t want it any other way, would it.
Seriously, I hope you are getting to see new and brilliant places once more. Thank you for all the help you gave me. I never forgot. And, I never will forget you.”
“I thought you might find this photo amusing. Hope you are able to read along and look at the others I’ve taken in Borneo.
All the best, and onwards with the next adventure my friend.”