Where will our family roots be?

A friend of mine asked me a very strange question the other day. “Where would you like to be buried?”

Perhaps I was looking particularly rough after an early morning flight and a late night of catching up, or perhaps he had some medical information that I wasn’t privy to yet. I floundered for a moment, nonplussed.

“Serious question,” he pressed. “Where would you like to be buried when you die?”

So I searched for a moment, and I found that it’s a question for which I have no real answer because it raises a more fundamental question for those who have lived a nomadic life: when all’s said and done, where do you think of as home?

The burial question is a good way of thinking about it, because nearly all of us know where we are from. But for some, our hometown was only that, a place to be from, not a place to be part of for life.

I left my hometown when I was in my late teens, moved around a bit in the UK, did a bit of travelling, and the left the UK for good in 2005. If I died today, would I want my remains to be repatriated to the place where I grew up? Probably not. There’s no family there any more.

So what about Denmark? Not really. I’ve a feeling that, with me gone, my family would have no reason to stay here anyway. And what about Australia? Does wanting to be somewhere for years automatically qualify it as home from the moment you arrive? I’d hope so, but I really don’t think it works that way.

So, when the dust of a few generations has settled and some yet to be conceived family antecedent is researching the history of their forebears, where will they conclude that our roots lie?

It’s an unanswerable question, but one that places the weight of our decision to emigrate in true perspective. In moving to Canberra, we aren’t just shaping the next few years of our lives, we are potentially redefining how our children and their children define themselves. As Brits or Australians? As immigrants or locals? At home or abroad?

In case anything should happen to me, I’d hate to think that my wife would read this and think she has to traipse the world over trying to find somewhere that my soul will find peace. So I’ll just say this: if my final stop is Australia, then that’s fine by me. In fact, I can almost see the inscription: “He spent 47 years trying to get here, and when he did, he never left.”

2 thoughts on “Where will our family roots be?

  1. I have thought about this question since moving to Sweden. I don’t know if it is the same in Denmark, but Sweden takes about 600 SEK out of my wages every year towards my grave/death/cremation (I don’t know exactly). My brother, who lived in Sweden first and is now back in the UK, tried to claim the taxes back since he and his wife are no longer in Sweden and don’t plan to be buried here. The government had never had this question before and just said no it is not possible.

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    • That’s so typical of Scandinavia, I think. In many of our recent interactions with authorities the questions have ranged from ‘why would you want to leave Denmark?’ to ‘we don’t have an answer to that’. I still don’t know that we know how to claim our pensions when the time comes but I figure we’ll take that battle when the time comes.

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