It’s a family’s worst nightmare. A loved one dies unexpectedly while abroad. Not only do they have to handle the emotional shock, grief and turmoil, but they must now navigate their way through a system of rules and conventions that exist around bringing the body of their family member back home.
Such was the case for Pauline Mason whose brother Brian died tragically in a motorbike accident in Western Australia in September. Brian was living the dream and “living life to the absolute fullest” and his adventures were cut short when something became lodged in his rear wheel and he lost control of the bike.
Pauline spoke to Sean O’Rourke about how she received the life-altering news on the phone in a London cafe with her partner and mother. Pauline’s world was shattered, but at the same time, she had to think of the practicalities involved in finding Brian, who was on a trip 10 hours north of Perth, and bringing him home.
“I was there sort of still on the phone to the police, breaking the news to my mother who was absolutely distraught but at the same time… all you think is, OK, he’s died but also you’re like, well where is he and what happens next you know because I’m so aware of how far away Australia is.”
Making the situation more difficult was the fact that Pauline received the news on a Saturday and the following Monday was a public holiday in Australia so nothing could happen for the family until the Tuesday. “I was there, standing in the middle of Kingston with my mother and my partner going, you know, he’s died and we’ve got no idea what to do,” said Pauline.
Sean also spoke to Heather McKeegan, Chairperson of Claddagh Association in Perth and Colin Bell of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust who came to the Mason family’s aid at this time.
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