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Connecting Families with Long-Forgotten Cremated Remains Is Goal of New Website

Thousands of cremated remains stacked up around the country go unclaimed

Feb. 18, 2014 – Thousands of cremated remains in the U.S. go unclaimed each year and line the storage shelves of funeral homes, cremation providers and government agencies across the country. A new website, founded by Michael Neal, a funeral director in Washington, Pa., is aimed at linking these remains with their loved ones.

"The task of trying to reconnect families with loved ones' cremated remains in this way has never been done and it would be a shame not to harness the power of the Internet when addressing such an important problem," Neal said.

To help with this delicate task, Mr. Neal launched that he hopes will connect families with their deceased relatives. Mr. Neal said the website currently has information for more than 1,000 people whose unclaimed cremated remains are awaiting reunification with their families.

“Often times, family members who have the legal right to claim these cremated remains, are unaware that they have never been picked up, and assume them to have long been buried, entombed, or scattered in a special place,” explains Neal.

“In other cases, the relative could have been estranged or simply living in another state and no notice of death was ever given. Consider also those who fell ill in a distant location or had been institutionalized or incarcerated.”


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To help with this effort, Neal is partnering with the Oregon State Hospital, a division of the Oregon Health Authority, to assist that state with finding the families of more than 3,500 individuals in their care who have been cremated, but never claimed.

The online database also goes beyond Oregon since anyone can log on to view the registry, and cremation providers may apply for online privileges to upload information related to their own unclaimed inventory at absolutely no cost.

"It's a service with the single purpose of bringing long separated family members and their loved ones together again, thus enabling a final disposition to take place," Neal says.

Forgotten Ashes contains the names of the cremated as well as possible survivors, when available, and allows for the easy sharing of that information through social networks. Any funeral home can register to list their own inventory of forgotten ashes, which will be available at any time until they wish to remove them or until they have been claimed.



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