Every Body Needs Grief

Dean Bonner
2 min readApr 14, 2021


I’m sorry for you losses, Joel. Someone should grieve; someone should remember.

I saw your post just as I hung up the phone from helping dispose of a body.

The body of the woman I divorced (relatively amicably) in 1999.

I got a surprise call mid-day from a detective in the next state, who told me of the death of my ex, and he directed me to the coroner to help find ANYONE in her family to claim the body. She died two days ago, and is on ice. In another day or two, they’d have to literally give her a burial in a pauper’s plot, unmarked, as an unclaimed body.

There is no big emotional attachment. But someone needed to know, to come get her, to grieve. She died alone in her apartment, and no one in her family knew, and the detective had nothing to go on from her personal effects that would identify family members.

But there was this coroner who gave a shit. A guy who goes an extra league to locate family — he located family for an ex-con who was about to be buried in a penitentiary cemetery when no family was initially located; he found a twin brother who came for him. The Milledgeville GA asylum cemetery has 30K+ graves. In the 60s, groundskeepers just tossed 10K of the odd looking grave markers into the woods. How can family grieve for them properly now?

When I was on the Coast Guard ship out of Boston, I kept waiting for a new guy to arrive to give him a package (Radiomen were the ship’s mailmen). After six months, another guy told me the box wasn’t FOR someone — it WAS someone. An unclaimed body. The Boston funeral homes divvied them up among the ships to bury at sea. A few came with a note of military service; many more were “just” unclaimed by any family member. Some came in plastic boxes; a couple in big metal coffins with holes in them. We gave them a short service several miles out and buried them there.

I flexed my Intelligence Officer skills today, locating leads on my ex’s surviving family members. I found her nephew’s ex, who stepped up and gladly reached her family. They are on the way to claim her body and contact a funeral home tonight.

Grieve without shame, Joel. Everyone should have someone who takes some time to reminisce, to grieve, to laugh.

I did a small thing today that meant a lot to someone, because it was the right thing to do. It’s not me, but someone is grieving for my ex-wife tonight.



Dean Bonner

Author, humorist, community builder, telegrapher, gold prospector. Making my corner of the world a better place. People matter.