Increase in Number of Unclaimed Bodies: Relatives Can’t Afford Funerals

Another sign of just how bad the economy is out there for some folks.  This is unheard of in the South.

Those of us in the middle class are generally insulated from this type of situation-but not always.  And it appears it’s happening more and more frequently to people who probably didn’t see it coming…

From the Greensboro News and Record:

GREENSBORO — The number of bodies that go unclaimed each year is rising across the country — even in the South, where traditions die hard and cousins twice-removed could once expect a family burial.

Bodies are being abandoned everywhere — from hospital morgues to the funeral home that picked up the person who died at home.

“They’re being outright unclaimed by family because family members claim they have no money,” said Clyde Gibbs, North Carolina’s chief medical examiner, whose agency has seen an increase from 45 unclaimed bodies in 2006 to 73 in 2010.

Numbers are not kept by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services or most states, although a county’s social services agency is responsible for disposing of those bodies. Agencies contract the services to local funeral homes or crematoriums. State law requires a mandatory 10-day hold on unclaimed bodies.

“Weddings and funerals are the last vestiges of tradition,” said Paul Harris, executive director of the industry-regulating N.C. Board of Funeral Service, which is getting more calls from funeral homes stuck with remains.

“I’m hard-pressed to believe our human nature doesn’t cause us to want to do something.”

More:   Relatives forced to leave the deceased : : Greensboro & the Triad’s most trusted source for local news and analysis.

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