These Teenagers Are Memorializing Those Who Die Alone

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A group of high schoolers from the Boston area have been attending funerals for those who die alone or without kin, acting as mourners and pallbearers.

NPR has profiled a funeral attended by the teenage boys, all students at Roxbury Latin boys’ school. The teens attended the funeral of a man who died alone and for whom no next of kin was found. The group of six, accompanied by the school’s assistant headmaster, attended the funeral before regular classes. In jackets and ties, they carried the plain coffin and spoke words over the grave.

“He died alone with no family to comfort him. But today, we are his family, we are here as his sons,” they said. One boy recited a poem.

The number of people who die without family or friends each year is not an enormous one, but neither is it insignificant. According to The New York Times, police estimate that they’re able to reach next of kin about 85% of the time. For the other 15%, funeral affairs end up in the hands of authorities.

Roxbury Latin is working in conjunction with Lawler and Crosby funeral home, one of the few funeral homes in Massachusetts which handles these cases. Neither Lawler and Crosby nor Roxbury Latin replied to a request for comment.

After the funeral, the boys returned to school for classes — with, perhaps, a little bit of a new perspective on life.
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