Those Who Can't Afford Burials Honored At Traditional Service

Jul 9, 2013

Family members and friends of the creamated individuals paid their respects Tuesday. The headstone was engraved with a quotation in lieu of names. "We grow afraid of what we might forget. We will find peace and value through community in knowing that we belong to each other. Dedicated to the Citizens of Bernalillo County."
Credit Carrie Jung

Bernalillo County honored the remains of 87 unclaimed and indigent residents today with a burial service in southwest Albuquerque. The memorial was the second of its kind the county has performed.

State law mandates that counties dispose of unclaimed and indigent remains in a lawful manner, which often times, is as simple as a cardboard box stored on a shelf. But in Bernalilo County, that includes a casket and a headstone. 

Some of the deceased who were buried today were homeless, others unclaimed and unidentified. And some came from families that were unable to afford a proper burial. 

The Riverside Funeral Home donated the casket and the Atrisco Heritage Foundation donated the plot. Bernalillo county spokesman Larry Gallegos says the need for services like these is on the rise. "Unfortunately," Gallegos explained, "homeless populations have risen, the number of people who just can't afford to bury their family members."

The county plans to make the service an annual event. The cost of this year's program was around $70,000.