Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium is once again collaborating with Mt. Calvary Cemetery to offer a “home” for unclaimed cremated remains.
A public mass to honor and accept the unclaimed remains is set for Monday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. at Mt. Calvary Chapel, 474 Goffstown Road, Manchester, NH.
The public mass comes soon after All Soul’s Day, commemorated by Roman Catholics on Nov. 2 this year as a designated time to pray for all the faithful departed.
Each year, people are cremated and their remains sit unclaimed on funeral home and crematorium shelves, sometimes referred to as “shelf people” by those in the industry. Phaneuf makes a concerted effort to contact family members to claim the remains, but there are circumstances where someone does not have a family member to pick up the remains or perhaps distant family members are not even aware the remains exist.
Sometimes, loved ones are so grief-stricken, they cannot bring themselves to take the remains home, and they stay put at the funeral home.
There’s no easy box to check for unclaimed remains. Unclaimed remains do not fall into any specific socioeconomic demographic or ethnic group. These are remains from babies, the elderly and all ages in between. They are from males and females of various backgrounds.
Legally, remains must be held for 30 days and then can be discarded as the funeral home sees fit. Phaneuf does not discard remains as we see it as a lack of respect to unceremoniously dispose of the remains of a once-vibrant individual.
We don’t presuppose or pass judgment on why these remains go unclaimed. Several years ago, we contacted Mt. Calvary for help in placing these remains in a permanent, respectful location. Unclaimed remains are now interred in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.
Members of Phaneuf’s staff attend the unclaimed remains services. The event is an incredibly moving outpouring of kindness, love and respect for human life. All are welcome to attend the mass honoring those whose remains are left behind.