Bill Would Address Forgotten Ashes

Abandoned Remains Could Be Disposed In Three Years

Hundreds of Coloradans have been cremated, and their families abandoned their ashes.

7NEWS first exposed the problems last November, but now lawmakers want to close the legal loophole and give forgotten ashes an honorable burial.

The closet in the basement of Monarch Society, a Denver funeral home, is still filled with box after box of abandoned ashes.

Families left them, or they have no family left.

"After your story, no one called to pick up their loved one's remains," said Rayanne Mori, the founder of Monarch Society.

Last November, 7NEWS went inside several local funeral homes, where directors store abandoned cremated remains in lockers, closets and unmarked crypts.

"Our logs of unclaimed cremains go back to the early 1900s," said Bill Logan, with Crown Hill Cemetery.

State law requires remains be forever available for families to recover, but that is a law Rep. Marsha Looper (R-Calhan) is now trying to change.

"Your story, I think, was the catalyst in getting the information out to all the policy makers," said Looper.

Under the proposed bill, funeral directors could dispose of forgotten ashes after three years, but only in ossuaries, cemeteries, scatter gardens or consecrated ground.

"The funeral homes will notate on the records where those remains have been scattered," said Looper. "So, at the end of the day is an honorable way to place those remains in a safe and sacred place."

The bill is quickly making its way through the legislature. It passed in the House and will be heard in a Senate Committee next week.

Several states have similar bill to allow for disposal of abandoned cremated remains, said Looper.

Mori said if the bill passes, she would take the remains to a local church columbarium to give the forgotten ashes a final resting place.

"We give our families a window and time to grieve," said Mori. "But at the same time, they have to complete the circle of life. They have to complete this burial."

Print this article Back to Top