My grandmother passed away in Windsor, Ontario in June 1967. She had pre-arranged and paid for her funeral; the last payment being made just a few months prior to her unexpected death. Her wish was to be cremated. Being that Windsor did not have a crematorium at that time, the funeral home sent her remains to Woodmere Crematorium in Michigan, USA. They were returned to Windsor in November 1967. At that time, cremation was not a very common practice. A card in my grandmother’s possessions revealed her funeral arrangements had been taken care of. I can only assume my father, her only remaining child, was under the impression there was nothing else to do in regard to his mother’s remains. We moved from Windsor the following year.
Forty years later (in 2007), funeral homes were given a directive to “clean up unclaimed cremated remains.” Letters were sent out by the funeral home to the next of kin’s address on file. Who would have thought that it would be necessary for the executor of the estate/family member of the deceased to provide a change of address to the funeral home? Not only was our family no longer living at the same address we were living at in 1967; the next of kin had also since passed away. As such, no letter was received by our family with respect to my grandmother’s cremains.
Jump ahead to 2016. My parents and their parents have all passed on. My sister and I take a trip to the cemetery, only to find that my grandmother is not there and had never been there. After contacting the funeral home, I found out that all unclaimed remains had been placed in a common crypt in a mausoleum at the Green Acres Cemetery in Winnipeg. Apparently, Dignity Memorials was the parent company at the time and unclaimed cremains were eventually sent their location in Winnipeg.
In 2016, the cost to have my grandmother’s cremains sent to the funeral home in Windsor was $795.00 plus postage costs. Other expenses to consider included the cost of the burial, an urn (if the cremains are not already in an urn), the plot and a grave marker/headstone. The funeral home, who was involved with the original funeral arrangements when my grandmother passed, was required to initiate the process. Because our father had been the executor and had since passed, as had our mother, we (my siblings and I) had to provide death records for our parents, along with a copy of the will to show that we were next in line and therefore able to initiate the process of having our grandmother’s cremains returned to Windsor. Yes, there’s always paperwork, but the process wasn’t difficult. Within two months, my grandmother’s cremains were at the funeral home in Windsor. The family services director at the cemetery was wonderful to work with. Within three months of starting the process, my grandmother was buried with her son and daughter-in-law. She was home.
So, if your relative was cremated and you cannot find where they are buried or interred, it could very well be that someone did not retrieve their cremains from the funeral home and they had been sent to another location. The local funeral home is the best place to start looking for answers.