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Mother Was Not Told of Her Son's Death While She Was on a Cruise



My 42-year-old son died a week after an uncomplicated gallbladder surgery while I was on a cruise in the Caribbean. It is believed he had a blood clot. I didn't find out until I returned home because the cruise line chose to avoid disrupting my vacation! My family waited for my return to hold the funeral. They were in shock and turmoil while I was cruising the ocean, drinking cocktails with little umbrellas. I will never forgive the cruise line for withholding the news from me. Am I wrong to be so angry?


My condolences for your loss. You and your family have suffered significantly and unexpectedly. The shock of this loss will take some time for everyone to process.

For some time, you will likely replay in your mind the events of this sudden loss, which is a very human thing to do. You will likely go over every detail of what happened between the time of your son's surgery and his death. "Could I have done something?" "Should I have stayed?" "Could I have prevented this catastrophic event?" These are all normal questions; however, based on what you are saying, it is unlikely you could have prevented your son's passing.

Your primary focus right now is the cruise line. Did the cruise line staff member who received the information make the correct judgment? Some may say yes, and others may say no. It is clear, however, that you disagree completely with the decision they made. Since it was only a matter of days, the cruise line likely felt they were making the best decision for you. You can absolutely argue that it is not their decision to make. While that is also my impression of the situation, I do believe these situations happen from time to time, given their large number of passengers, ships and trips. What I am saying here is that they have experience in this matter, while you do not. Hopefully, this is your first and last experience like this.

That being said, I believe that it is a good idea for you to speak with someone from the cruise line to hear their rationale for not telling you. You may still not agree with them, though I believe it will place their perspective in your mind and help you process the events surrounding your son’s death.

You have a long journey ahead of you to process this loss of yours, and my thoughts will be with you along the way. It will not be easy, and you will likely have regrets at times. Do talk to others about your loss. Ask questions and speak with professionals. If you are in the Southeast Wisconsin area, you are welcome to utilize our Grief Resource Center, which offers a safe-haven for those who have suffered a significant loss. It offers a wide range of bereavement services, all free of charge.  You can learn more about this on our website at

I wish you the best.