Many Families In Detroit Can't Afford to Bury Their Dead

Many Families In Detroit Can't Afford to Bury Their Dead

Published October 20, 2009

Sometimes tears fall for more reasons than the loss.

It’s a problem familiar to poor families everywhere but particularly in many Black communities hit hard by sudden deaths from violence or other tragedies: financial problems can make putting loved ones to rest a painful challenge.

CNN Video: Bodies Piling Up in Detroit's Morgue

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A new Detroit-based program seeks the public’s support in providing for burials or cremations to those whose friends and families can’t afford to make final arrangements. Called “May WE Rest in Peace,” the initiative is led by coordinator Shanti Das.

A music-industry rep, Das says she was moved to take action by an article about the number of dead in a freezer at Detroit’s Wayne County morgue.

“I had to stop and really think about this for a second,” Das says. “What if it were my mother, father or loved one lying there in the morgue and I couldn’t afford to properly lay them to rest? I have experienced so much pain over the years from losing loved ones and close friends.”

The average cost of funerals in America is $7,000, a recent CNN.com article reports, with cremation costs estimated at $2,000. About 70 bodies at the Wayne County morgue are reportedly unclaimed by relatives.

“While I was too young to remember, my own mother was faced with a similar situation when my father passed 38 years ago,” says Das. “He committed suicide which meant that the insurance policy would not cover the cost of his funeral and burial. However, due to the compassion and kindness of the agent who saw a young mother with three children and no other means to bury her spouse, the insurance company paid for the services.”

Das says she plans to approach Detroit mayor Dave Bing for his endorsement of the campaign as a resource to city residents.

“Please support me in this most personal endeavor,” she asks.


For more information or to help Detroit families bury their loved ones visit the Web site www.mayWErestinpeace.org.

Written by Eddie B. Allen Jr., BET.com Staff

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