AP reports from Akron about corpses left unclaimed by families because they don’t want to bury them, preferring instead to let the state do it.
Thomas Tellis died in March, but his cremated remains are still waiting to be claimed at a Canton funeral home. Shortly after the 89-year-old’s death, investigators located Tellis’ daughter, but the woman, who was born out of wedlock and raised by another man, refused to claim Tellis’ body.
Those Law consequences kick us in the worst way, huh?
Often, the reasons are economic. Funeral costs average more than $6,000, and that can create a burden for people struggling to make ends meet, said Harry Campbell, an investigator with the Stark County coroner’s office.
This is an interesting tension. This situation is about embarrassment; the person “deserves” better but the responsible party can’t put together the funeral they see necessary. Corpses don’t care how they are buried.
There are simpler, darker reasons for not claiming bodies:
In one instance, a woman contacted the Ohio Funeral Directors Association, which handles indigent cases, to pay for the funeral of her dying mother-in-law, said Trey Wackerly, a Canton funeral director and member of the organization.
At first the woman claimed she couldn’t afford it, but when Wackerly pressed her, she acknowledged that there was insurance money, but that her family didn’t like the mother-in-law and hoped to use the cash to remodel their kitchen.
How big is this kitchen going to be? Or rather, what is purchased for the cost of a graveyard plot, a pine box, and a small stipend for the pastor? I think one could do without that last piece of Calphalon.
Unclaimed bodies still receive a burial, but the county is often saddled with the bill when the deceased had no estate that could be used to cover expenses.
Counties have different protocols for dealing with such cases. Some bodies are cremated, others are not. Most end up in indigent plots in local cemeteries.
Either way, workers treat the deceased with respect, said David Turney, an investigator with the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The state only has only as much moral character as the individual performing the task. It’s only a matter of time before bodies are dumped into the Scioto.
Funerals may be about the dead, but they are for the living. I would find it appropriate for solid law-and-gospel-preaching churches to assume remains from the state, invite kin to a church-paid-for funeral, and preach to the living. If you don’t want to worry about the Establishment clause, allow whatever churches want to do this to sign up and let the kin choose the church. No trappings; we don’t need churches trying to buy services.
How we treat the dead is indicative of how we value life and how we regarding divine revelation about the future.