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
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
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.
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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