A Travel Fear Becomes Reality

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The Whole Fam

I’m going to get a lot of shit for posting this photo… :D

Actually I’m Lucky

While I’m completely devastated by her sudden death, I know it could have been worse. I had been preparing to travel through Panama’s Darien jungle, getting ready to spend weeks living with indigenous tribes of Embera & Wounaan Indians.

Had my grandmother passed away while I was exploring this remote wilderness, there would have been no way to contact me and I would have missed my chance to fly back for the funeral and grieve with the rest of the family. In this way at least, I feel lucky.

I know of other travelers who didn’t get this same opportunity.

The whole ordeal has reminded me of the fact that no matter how much you prepare for the unexpected in life, the universe may have plans of it’s own.

So if you get a chance, give your grandparents a call.


  1. This is probably the hardest part of traveling or living away from family and close friends. I lost a close family friend and couldn’t get back for the services.

    Thanks for the post. My deep condolences.

  2. Very sorry to hear of your loss :(. Ive always wondered how id deal with a catastrophic event such as yours.

    I guess I would go to any length to return home. But as you say had the timing have been a few weeks later you may not have been able to attend.

    Sad times but something this amazing world throws at us.

  3. I’m really sorry to hear that are going through this. Grandparents are hard to lose. On the other hand, I am very glad that you were able to attend, getting the news before you went out into a remote area. Your family looks like a fun bunch ;) Keep those memories going!

  4. Sometimes though prepared, we still feel shocked when someone dear to us pass away. I was young when my grandmother died. I constantly visited her at the hospital but wasn’t there when she died. I was really sad but remembered how happy she had lived her life. I am sad to hear for your grandmother’s lost and you are really lucky not to have gone to that planned trip.

  5. What a great picture of both you and your Gram Matt! On our rides up to Plymouth we used to chit-chat about family. She was always so proud of all of you. Treasure all the wonderful memories. Irene is now looking over you.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. I was recently in the same situation, and had to fly home from the UK for the funeral of my adopted mom. I am so grateful that I was also accessible by phone, and able to do so.
    You and your family are blessed to be able to support each other as your grandmother would have wished, telling the wonderful stories of your shared history and of what a wonderful person she was. All my best to you.

  7. Hi Matt,
    Nothing was more important to Grammy than her family–not even her NE sports teams! What a legacy she has left: your wonderful, BIG family!!! She was so proud of her kids and grandkids and would certainly be proud of Aubrey. I am so blessed to have had her in my life too. God Bless You on your travels and always know that you bring Grammy with you in your heart wherever you go. She was a very special lady!

  8. Dear Matt, my sincere condolences to you and your family. Life is so unpredictable. May you all find peace soon. Will say a prayer for you all.

    Go well.

    Warm regards

  9. Hi Matt,
    Love keeping up with your adventures. My deepest condolences in your loss. You were indeed very fortunate to have been able to go home. Traveling will always be there, anytime. Family is more important and THAT is fulfilling in itself. Indeed you live and lead a full life. Prayers and Peace to you.

  10. We are so glad and thankful that you were there, Matt. The only way to work through that sadness is to be together and remember all the fun times with Mum. Travels are wonderful but family is priceless. We will look forward to you back out on the trails. Love, Trish

  11. HI Matthew,
    First of all, my condolences.

    I think it is good of you to travel back. I know that you and maybe lots of people would think it is only natural, and it is. But still – it’s good of you.


  12. Sorry to hear your loss. But I am glad you were able to make it back and be with your family during important times.

    I missed my grandfather’s funeral. Everything was unrealistic when I went back to my hometown later. It felt weird that he was not there anymore.

    It is hard to prepare for anything unexpected. But friends, family, loved one will always be there for you ^_^

  13. Condolences to you and your family. Very sorry for your loss. I know how it feels when you *think* you’re prepared for anything but you’re really not!

    I weren’t as lucky. I was informed about my grandma’s passing just as I landed back in the United States after my trip to India. It would’ve been too late for me even if I turned around and went back into the airport to fly home (across the globe to Malaysia). I was to miss the funeral.

    I agree that for everyone else – make that call to your grandparents… NOW!

  14. My deep condolences. It’s definitely something I’ve thought about too. I guess the important thing to remember is to continually let your family and friends know how much they mean to you, even if you are thousands of miles away.

    It looks like your grandma was a really lovely person!

  15. I am so sorry, that is such a terrible thing to happen during your trip. I have definitely thought about it quite a bit (my sister is currently pregnant and has already begged me on the phone to come home just for a little bit). There are so many things that CAN happen. I’m glad that while you did think of it, you chose to live life anyway. I’m sure your grandma can appreciate that.

  16. Let me be the first to “give you shit” about that photo :) I hate that picture of me, but what that whole picture represents is much more important than just ME. We are very lucky to have had such a wonderful person influence our lives. She was the HEART of our family and I miss her in every moment.

  17. My condolences go out to you & your family. I’m sorry you have to experience during your RTW trip, but like you said you are lucky you were able to find out & go home. This has been one of my biggest fears as well because all my grandparents are over the age of 85. I knew before I left I had to visit them one last time so that in case something did happen while I was on the road I had no guilt. So I did and I am glad I did. Again I’m sorry for your lose and if you need anything let me know. im here for ya.

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