Los Angeles County hosted a ceremony Thursday to mark the burial of 1,624 people who died in 2019 but whose remains went unclaimed by relatives or loved ones.
The service included blessings from a range of faiths honoring the unclaimed dead, whose cremated remains were placed in a single mass grave.
The individuals honored at the Los Angeles County Crematory and Cemetery in Boyle Heights died in 2019. The county generally holds the cremated remains for three years before burial to allow family members and loved ones a chance to claim them.
The county has been holding such ceremonies since 1896.
“They may have left this world alone, but every year I’m in awe of how many people take the time to join us to mourn the loss of compete strangers,” County Supervisor Janice Hahn said during the service. “We may not have known them personally, but we can relate to them because we share a common humanity. We know they felt joy at one time like the rest of us. We know they had hopes and dreams like we do. We also know they felt pain and disappointment and loneliness, likely more than most.
“We cannot go back and make these people’s lives better, but we can lay them to rest with respect. We can hope that they are in a more peaceful place now, and we can rededicate ourselves to caring for the many people who need us while we still can.”
The ceremonies were held virtually the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year’s ceremony was held in-person.
Family members searching for deceased loved ones can call the county Office of Decedent Affairs/Morgue at 323-409-7161 or the Medical Examiner’s Office, 323-343-0512. The cost of cremation may be waived for families facing financial hardship.