Diaspora: 14 Reasons Why An Increasing Number Of Diasporans Are Being Buried Abroad

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By Tose Gava

EVIDENTLY, the proportion of diasporans being buried abroad has been increasing exponentially over the past few years.

At the peak of the Covid-19 global pandemic, the figures further increased due to lockdowns, travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines in most jurisdictions.

I know cases of diasporans who were left with no option but to bury their loved ones in countries and regions like Australia, Canada, USA, UK, EU because body repatriations became impossible.

In other cases, families were forced to opt for cremation which is against their preferances.

Barring the global pandemic, there has been a significant increase in diaspora burials and there are 14 reasons why this trend is becoming acceptable and common in diaspora communities.

This trend is a manifestation of the reality that diasporans are transnational citizens who belong to more than one nation or society.

As such, long-term planning demands that when they take funeral insurance for family protection, they should always make sure that their policies have a worldwide reach like the Diaspora Funeral Cash Plan which can be used anywhere in the world because cash knows no border.

Besides, with a cash denominated funeral policy, one can cover a host of related funeral expenses.

There are 14 reasons to explain the increasing number of diasporans being buried abroad as discussed below:

  1. Prohibitive Body Repatriation And Related Costs
  2. Disruption of the hierarchical African family structure
  3. Shift in emotional and physical belonging
  4. Loss of people who emotionally matter back home
  5. Disconnected diaspora-raised family
  6. Home is where you live attitude
  7. There is no country without a graveyard notion
  8. Diasporans are socio-economically invested in offshore communities
  9. Collapse of yesteryear village roots back home
  10. Intermarriages in the diaspora
  11. Diluted cultural values and views
  12. Regular grave visits post burial is too expensive
  13. Acquired resentment and sense of giving up
  14. Global pandemics like Covid 19


Prohibitive Body Repatriation And Related Costs

In some cases, repatriation looks cheaper than burial abroad, especially if you consider  the cost of the burial plot or grave.

The reality is that burial back home is far more expensive considering the cost of body repatriation, cost of burial, cost of multiple family trips to attend the funeral, memorial and tombstone ceremony among others.

This is worsened by bills arising from prolonged funeral vigils due to delayed burial.

The prohibitive costs are a significant factor pushing some diasporans to opt for burial abroad.

A cash-based funeral policy is suitable, especially for diasporans because the policyholder has flexibility.

A cash cover provides worldwide protection which allows one to cover a whole host of funeral related costs.

Disruption of the hierarchical African family structure

Traditionally, African families are hierarchical, but this has weakened and is fading as more people become economically self-sufficient.

This true with diasporans where distance and self-sufficiency has resulted in independence when it comes to family decision making.

The breadwinners for the clan are economically empowered to fund their own decisions,

even if they are not sanctioned by family elders. Sadly, as the saying goes s/he who has money is the boss.

The bosses are increasingly choosing to be buried abroad for a host of reasons and the traditional command structure has become increasingly powerless.

Shift in emotional and physical belonging

Truth be told, the longer people live abroad their old home increasingly become a distant memory.

In terms of emotional belonging, people naturally begin to become attached to where they live.

The emotional fixation about being repatriated to be laid to rest in one’s home country or at the ancestral graveyard starts to die resulting in more diasporans being buried abroad.

Loss of people who emotionally matter back home

In everyone’s life, there are people whom one is very emotionally attached to and in most cases it is the parents followed by siblings and then other relatives and/or friends.

Often, friends jump the queue and shred the blood is thicker than water adage.

For most diasporans, the event of losing parents back home tends to shift their emotional belonging to diaspora life where they would normally have their nucleus family namely spouse and children.

Sometimes the shift in emotional belonging away from country of origin gets exacerbated by the fact that after losing parents back home one finds themselves in a situation where all the siblings are also Diasporans scattered around the world. To be repatriated to who, quickly becomes the key question?

Disconnected diaspora-raised family

Most diasporans migrated at their prime either with young families or even started families in the diaspora.

As as much as the first-generation migrants may initially be fixated about their country of origin, the families they bring up in the diaspora may not have the same attachment.

In fact, 2nd and 3rd generation Diasporans don’t emotionally belong to their parents’ home country, they emotionally belong where they were raised, the diaspora country.

This disconnected diaspora-raised family ultimately make the final decision in terms of where their diaspora parents would be buried hence the increase in diaspora burial.

Home is where you live attitude

The longer people live abroad the stronger the notion that home is where you live.

Coupled with other influencing factors, we see more and more diasporans being buried abroad.

There is no country without a graveyard notion

To some diasporans the attitude is that death is death, burial is burial, and there is no country without a graveyard so why bother.

If you factor all funeral associated costs like body repatriation, burial costs, multiple family travel tips (for burial, memorial services, tombstone unveiling etc), and opportunity costs of work absenteeism, the repatriation would be far more costly than burial abroad.

This, coupled with other factors, explains the increasing occurance of diasporans opting for offshore burial.

Diasporans are socio-economically invested in offshore communities

Overtime, diasporans become heavily invested in the offshore local communities they live in.

These socio-economic investments invariably consolidate the sense of belonging and ultimately feeds into the no repatriation position.

Collapse of yesteryear village roots back home

Sadly, in some communities the migration phenomenon whether forced or voluntary has resulted in families and community disintegration.

I  know a lot of homesteads that have disintegrated and are being manned by domestic workers, especially in rural villages.

This collapse of yesteryear villages that used to be socio-economically vibrant, where homesteads were inherited from generation to generation, sadly means that some diasporans may not even have village roots to go back to because the system collapsed with the death of their parents.

Intermarriages in the diaspora

Whether it is first diaspora generation or subsequent generations intermarrying, the truth is that this seriously impacts on diasporans’ emotional belonging to their country of origin.

Resultantly, intermarriages feed in the reduction of diasporans opting for repatriation when their time on earth is done.

Diluted cultural values and views

The impact of relocating and living in a completely different location with completely different cultural values, views and orientation need not be underestimated.

Over time diasporans’ cultural values and views get diluted if not eroded completely. In many cases, diasporans as a people are being fast transferred from conservative communities to cosmopolitan societies that are not communally oriented. Ultimately, the shift in cultural orientation creates individuals whose default choice is burial abroad.

Regular grave visits post burial is too expensive

To most diasporans, especially second and subsequent generations, it is very important that one can regularly visit the burial site of their loved ones to pay their respects and lay flowers.

If your loved one is buried thousands of miles away, these visits become prohibitively expensive and a showstopper. For some Diasporans, this very important and single reason is why repatriation and burial of their loved ones back to their country of origin is a big NO.

Acquired resentment and sense of giving up

An average diasporan has one or two if not more horror experiences when it comes to being cheated by family members back home.

Some have lost huge amounts of money and/or property.

This happens in business transactions or it’s a family or personal matters wherein a family member cheats.

It hurts to be cheated by your own more so by people you regularly support as the clan’s cash-cow. In the end, some Diasporans develop resentment and a sense of just giving up and ultimately that position feeds into burial abroad as the default option.

Global pandemics like Covid-19

Everyone’s hope and prayers are that we have seen the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and that the world is spared of any such horrific pandemics in the future.

With reference to diasporans more specifically to body repatriation, the Covid-19 pandemic created a big challenge.

As pandemic control measures like lockdown, restricted travel, limited flights, mandatory quarantines, and isolations took grip on a global scale; many bereaved families in the diaspora were literally forced into offshore burials/cremations that they never envisaged.

This left a lot of families in a very difficult financial situation especially if they didn’t have a cash-denominated funeral policy that works globally in any circumstance. Pandemics are actually a big factor when it comes to increase in cases of offshore burials of Diasporans.

The increasing number of diasporans opting to be buried abroad points to the fact that when one buys a funeral policy, it is imperative to think long term.

Never be caught in a situation where your funeral policy locks in rigid conditions that when you come to pass you the policy provider will repatriate you and bury you in your country of origin.

Ultimately, people’s location and preferences are not fixed, and your funeral policy should be versatile to deal with the needs of diaspora transnational citizens.

Whether one chooses to be repatriated, burial abroad, reverse repatriation or even cremation, your funeral policy should work for you and on a cash-denominated funeral policy can do that.

If you want to know more about how a funeral cash cover works visit  Diaspora Funeral Cash Plan, Your Dignified send-off, Guaranteed!

By Tose Gava
A UK Based Financial Advisor & Insurance Specialist