December 8, 2022
L.A. County Paid Tribute to Unclaimed Dead in a Burial Ceremony
Tradition of honoring the unclaimed dead was held through an on-line virtual ceremony
(December 8, 2022) LOS ANGELES, CA – A non-denominational interfaith virtual burial ceremony was held today by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, L.A. County Department of Health Services, Department of Decedent Affairs and LAC+USC Medical Center Chaplains at the Los Angeles County Crematory and Cemetery to remember and honor the unclaimed dead. Local faith leaders presided over the burial of 1624 decedents who were laid to rest in a single mass grave.
The ceremony is a time-honored annual tradition that started in 1896 to ensure that all that have passed in Los Angeles County are laid to rest with respect.
The interfaith ceremony, opened with a “Song of Farewell” presided over by Rev. Chris Ponnet. It included a Hebrew prayer led by Rabbi Brett Weisman, a Buddhist Prayer led by Victor Gabriel and Michael Tran, Native American Blessings by Tina Calderon, Tongva, and the Lord’s Prayers led by Chaplain Brian Tucker, Chaplain Intern Fr. Ihor Koshyk, Chaplain Arely Demas, and Chaplain David Saltzman COHLA, in English, Ukrainian and Spanish. Closing blessings were led by Chaplain Rev. Elizabeth Gibbs Zehnder, representing the Presbyterian community.
Program details can be found here: HERE
Footage of the virtual ceremony, as well interviews by Channel 36, can be viewed here: Dropbox Link
Photos of the virtual ceremony can be viewed here: WeTransfer Link
About the Ceremony
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors conducts an annual non-denominational, interfaith burial ceremony. The interfaith ceremony includes the Lord’s prayer in various languages and multiple religions will be represented. This year’s public event will honor 1624 individuals who passed away in 2019. The County of Los Angeles has been conducting burials of the unclaimed dead since 1896.
About Department of Decedent Affairs
The Office of Decedent Affairs handles cremation and burial for indigent/unclaimed individuals who die within Los Angeles County jurisdiction. These individuals may be homeless or have no next of kin. There is a three year wait between year of death and burial to allow family members to come forward to claim cremated remains before burial. A couple of days before the ceremony, ashes are placed in a single mass grave. A marker indicating the year of cremation is placed atop the plot. The Office of Decedent Affairs works with families to facilitate cremains retrieval prior to burial.