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Unexpected Death on the Road

(Courtesy of RV Lifestyle Experts eZine)

We are so blessed to have the months and years (23 years in my case) living real freedom on the road. But at some point, we must all “hang up the keys” for the last time. Possibly your first exposure to death comes from your neighbor in the next site, or your travel partner for many years (or just a few).

Creating a procedure to follow when death comes to your RV can ease the discomfort and help keep panic at bay. You left home with a copy of the health directive, right?. If not, right now is an excellent time to handle that chore. The Law Depot is only one of the many websites that walk you through the process. While you are there, take care of your Living Will at the same time. Make paper copies when completed, then have the documents notarized. Your bank probably offers a free Notary service.

The most important point here is the “do not resuscitate” option. If your partner has incorporated that into the health directive, this paperwork should be available. When the police or paramedics arrive, they start emergency medical procedures unless that piece of paper is present.

Program your smart phone with the name and telephone number of someone you can call for support while you wait. Figure out how to set up this support call so pressing one number (every phone has this function) is all that is needed.

Just talking over the phone can make you calmer and more clear-headed. If this resource is local, so much the better. Crisis Call Center (775) 784-8090 is available anytime.

Get in writing your partner’s preference for burial: Cremation, burial anywhere, burial back home. Sometimes an insurance policy is in force that covers the cost and burial site. Find out about this and include this somewhere on the Health Directive.

If one of you, or both, wish to donate your body to science, two options are ScienceCare and Medcure. It is not a simple process to complete (before your death) and may be rejected for various reasons after the event. They both provide free pickup service.

Now…complete this set of documents for yourself as well. Do not leave home without them.

Emergency Procedure

1. Call 911. If during office hours, call the RV park office and inform them (or the park emergency number if after hours). Expect them to have experienced a customer death, at least the management team. They may guide you and offer physical support immediately.

If boondocking all alone at this time, after calling 911, prepare to wait. Crisis Call Center (775) 784-8090 is available anytime.

2. Find the Health Directive and have it ready for the paramedics. Depending on the state and county, they may legally pronounce the date and time of death right there, or they may need to take the body to the morgue. Either way, you need a death certificate. Eventually, 10 copies or more may be needed, so take advantage of any copying service offered.

3. There may be a delay if the authorities suspect foul play. Keep yourself occupied by speaking to someone on the phone. Crisis Call Center (775) 784-8090 is available anytime. There is no charge by the Crisis Call Center, but your phone company charges, as usual, for minutes used.

These three steps take care of the first 24 hours, but here is more information on handling the next few days after the event.

  • AARP has a checklist of the items to cover in the next few weeks.
  • Russ &Tina De Maris’ article, “Fulltime RVer–Death While on the Road,” provides information on how to handle the body, including transport home. Also mentioned is the Federal law relating to the transportation of the remains, in case you decide to fly home.
  • Facebook has several forums that focus on grief support. Here is one forum to get you started.



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