Missing Dead, Michigan: 452 Human Ashes Sit Unclaimed at USPS
Have you ever lost something? Sure you have. Your keys. Maybe a purse or a wallet. Have you ever lost a person before? What about 452 of them?
It seems that is the problem the United States Post Office is facing. They have over 452 unclaimed boxes of cremains, the ashes of cremated people. How could that happen? There has to be a list of policies and procedures that have to be followed for something as delicate as mailing someone's relative right? The vast majority of those cremains sent came from Florida during the COVID Pandemic, and no doubt more than one of those missing boxes contains the remains of someone from Michigan.
There are, the problem is the USPS isn't the best a following strict rules. According to the USPS Office of Inspector General, cremains must be sent via Priority Mail Express in Michigan and around the country, and be plastered with a bigger-than-it-should-be orange sticker that reads "CREMATED REMAINS". It's like a sign from above that this package should be handled with care.
According to a recent audit, the USPS has forgotten these crucial steps, up to 50% of the time. By failing to follow the steps, 452 boxes full of someone's ashes sit at the Mail Recovery Center, MRC. The MRC is a new name for what was once referred to as the Dead Letter Office, which seems like a good change given the current problem.
Once at the MRC, USPS investigators try to determine where the package was intended to go, which is not an easy task, considering the surge of shipped cremains during the COVID 10 Pandemic. While most of the boxes of unclaimed people haven't been there too long, at least one package has remained unclaimed since 2015. If you'd like to see if you can search the boxes yourself, it's a long way to Atlanta, Georgia from Michigan.
If you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to transport remains, be sure to check with state and local authorities on what types of documentation you'll need should there be an issue. You can carry on ashes, but they will be put through the TSA screening process, including being x-rayed.
Somewhere, in a vast warehouse somewhere in Atlanta, sits the USPS Mail Recovery Center. Inside the MRC are 452 literal lost souls waiting to be scattered, buried, or placed on a mantle. If you think maybe your loved ones remains are in the MRC, follow this link to make a claim or request help.
Icy Dead People: Inside a Michigan Cryogenic Storage Facility