I saw this post today and could I ever identify with it! Bingo! Spot on!
My husband and I worked in the funeral industry for almost twenty years, ten of those years as owners. Were there unclaimed cremated remains in our closet? Yes, not many, but one is too many.
Why were they in our closet? Actually, there were a few common reasons that I will share with you.
- The family could not afford to pay the bill. We never told a family that the bill had to be paid first, but they assumed otherwise.
- The family hated the deceased and wanted nothing to do with the remains. The reasons for hatred could have been related to the pain caused by the individual because of alcoholism and all forms of abuse.
- The family was fighting over who was going to keep the remains. This became a major issue when a parent remarried without the support of their children. Should the ashes go to children or the spouse who was not their biological parent? Children or stepchildren? (SHIVER) Now there’s a hornet’s nest. Legally, the decision rests with the executor of the estate.
There were times we were asked to divide the remains ten ways.
It pains me to say that death brings out the worst in people. Bad relationships only get worse when exposed to the stress of death. My Dad frequently told me, “I know my children wouldn’t fight over what little we have.”
Think again, Dad.
My experience in the industry tells me otherwise. It could turn into a case of the Smothers Brothers, “Mom always liked me more. I think I should have her blah, blah, blah.” Mom and Dad may not leave behind wealth or possessions, but that is no insurance against squabbling.
I suspect every funeral home has a closet of unclaimed urns and remains. Do they stay there forever? Every province has its own rules. In Ontario, legislation states that after a certain period of time, the funeral home has permission to inter the remains in common ground at a cemetery. The funeral home must keep a record of when and where in case family members wish to claim the remains in the future.
I’m sure you do not want this to happen to your cremated remains. The solution is simple: MAKE A WILL. To those who insist it costs too much, I can assure you the alternative will involve far more money than the cost of a Will, to say nothing of the hard feelings.
I’m sure you know the expressions,
A stitch in time will save nine.
Penny wise, pound foolish.
A couple of hundred dollars spent on a legal, enforceable Will, could save you thousands of dollars and untold headaches.