Funeral Director: Unclaimed Remains Becoming National Problem

DETROIT (WWJ) With more people choosing cremation, funeral homes in metro Detroit are reporting a growing problem: unclaimed cremated remains.

Several local funeral homes say they have storage closets full of urns holding the remains of loved ones who have nowhere to go.

Patrick Lynch, director of Lynch & Sons Funeral Home in Clawson, has about 40 unclaimed remains. The past president of the National Funeral Directors Association said it’s becoming a national problem.

“When they would have a cremation in years past, they would think ‘Well, everything is all done’. But it’s not, because something does remain. The cremated remains need to be interred or placed somewhere,” Lynch said.

By Michigan law, funeral homes have to hold remains for 30 days.

After that? The kindness of strangers comes into play.

Funeral homes can keep them, or turn them over to a cemetery.

Lynch’s advice: Be very clear with your family where you want your remains to end up.

“We always discuss at the time the arrangements are being made ‘What are the family’s intention following the cremation …’ It’s alarming, actually, how many people have not thought to that point,” Lynch said.

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