The United States Postal Service has 452 packages filled with the cremated remains of individuals it cannot identify, including one that has been there for more than eight years, according to a report by the USPS Office of Inspector General
The USPS is the only legal way to ship cremated remains. At least in theory, the USPS has strict procedures for handling such sensitive and irreplaceable packages. Remains must be shipped via Priority Mail Express and have a giant orange sticker attached to the side of the box (the sticker used to be teal). They are also supposed to be handled differently than other Priority Mail Express packages.
However, the OIG report found some or all of these procedures are not done between 28 and 50 percent of the time, which could go some way towards explaining how 452 cremated remains boxes ended up in the USPS’s warehouse for lost packages. According to the report, “as of February 27, 2023, the MRC [Mail Recovery Center] had 452 undeliverable and/or unidentifiable Cremated Remains packages,” the oldest being there since February 24, 2015.