Home » A Wasted Life » Becoming Nothing More Than A Foul Odor

Becoming Nothing More Than A Foul Odor

I watched a terribly sad show yesterday about coroners and what they see and do every single day.  I guess like EMS, they become immune to the horrors of broken, mutilated bodies…bodies found in different stages of rigor mortis…and others who have been found simply because they have become a foul odor.

Every year in the United States, there is an average of 40 thousand unclaimed bodies that wait in a cold room, covered in plastic with only their feet exposed.  A lone toe tag is the only identifying scripture, stating either a Jane or John Doe.  Most of them are drug addicts, homeless and mentally ill people.

Those numbers are staggering.  These are men, women and yes, even children.  They are housed deep inside a building, far away from public view.  They don’t make headlines.  There are no demonstrations or calls to end the very reasons these people became drug addicts, homeless or mentally ill.

That particular building housed up to 500 bodies.  There was row after row, stacked three high.  They weren’t animal carcasses.  They were human bodies.  They once lived, breathed, loved, lost, worried, and most likely felt enormous pain.  Now they are laying there, unknown and uncared for.  They have fallen between the cracks.

On the rare occasion when a family member can be located, the coroner is most often met with indifference.  Society deems them to be unsavory.  They have been ignored in life and are ignored in death as well.

Their lives are reduced to a small manila envelope which contains all of their worldly goods.  When their possessions are not claimed after a specified amount of time, they are destroyed.  This includes money, jewelry, pictures and the clothing they were wearing when they were found.

There are grave sites where these people are buried en masse.  There are small 3×5 markers which bear only a number, such as 2013, 2056, 2654, etc.  The public is invited to attend when they have a collective ceremony and sometimes, a few make an appearance.

Should these people have mattered?  Should there have been somebody who grieved for them when they died?

When did these people become non-entities?  When did they become unimportant?  When did they no longer matter?  Shouldn’t somebody have noticed before they became rotting flesh and bones…and nothing more than a foul smell?


Or maybe at some point in their lives, they decided that they just wanted to vanish.  Maybe disappearing into anonymity was their way of escaping a world that didn’t seem to care.

I’ll answer my own questions…in my next post.





16 thoughts on “Becoming Nothing More Than A Foul Odor

  1. Every person matters. Whether other people acknowledge them or not is not the determing factor of their worth.

    But it is really sad what people do to eachother, how they treat eachother, as well as all the things people dont do to eachother. And how people put the value on worldly things and attained status in a person, instead of putting an equal value on each and every soul, out of respect.

    According to my faith, the majority of the people of Paradise will be those who were poor on earth, so a lot of all these 40 000 could actually be in a better place now, only God knows. Maybe a few of those were evil people too, doing evil deeds, we dont know. But whether anyone were living as rich or poor, amongst loved ones or having no one around, none of that really matters after death. Because with death the life in the grave starts. And whether the body actually lies in the grave or not, or in a shared grave or in it’s own, it will still be facing torment or blessing according to it’s deeds on earth. And the persons friends, relatives, children, aquintances, wealth or money can not help him/her then (although if the person believed, the children could pray for forgiveness of their parent, and if the wealth was used for ongoing charity there will still be continuing rewards for it).

    Obviously all our bodies will rotten and smell, whether hidden or in sight, and we will all be reduced to mere numbers or less than that one day. Even if we dont want to think that far ahead. But justice will prevail in the end, and everyone recompensed according to their deeds, of that I am sure.


    • In my faith, having children or others pray for your soul after death (or before) isn’t the way to salvation. You have to ask for forgiveness yourself. It would be wonderful for all the bad people who continued to rob, cheat and murder if all it took for redemption was a prayer or two from a relative. I’m not sure I could do that. Of course, I don’t pray for anybody anymore. Sigh.


      • Yes of course, that is the way in Islam also, stated throughout the Quran, the importance of doing good and following up your belief with actions. And of course your childrens prayers wont help you in that sense if you did such bad deeds, everything is weighed justly, and in the grave there is only you and your deeds, but we are still encouraged to pray for eachothers forgiveness and help eachother do good. And naturally, if anyone were such a bad person, in reality there will be no one praying for him or her, whereas if the person was good there will probably be people praying for him/her and if the person was alone he/she will be rewarded for enduring that loneliness which is a trial in itself. A prayer or two will not help a murderer, I do not refer to molestors or murderers or other huge evil deeds. They will have to stand in front of God with the person they wronged, and justice meeted out between them. God hates oppression. And either way everyone will be recompensed according to their deeds, and there will be complete justice on the Day of Recompense.


          • Everyone will be brought to account for his own sins and no one will be punished for another ones sins.
            “And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden” – Chapter 35, verse 18.

            A parent will be responsible for how he/she took care of his/hers kids. Also, when a parent sins, he/she might influence the kids negatively, so they might follow in the parents footsteps. And the parents sinning may have consequences that affects the children, in that case these consequences will be a punishment for the sinning parent and a trial for his/hers children. Because God tests us with hardships and trials. But when God tests us with hardships, it expiates our sins.


            • Ah. I like your belief better! LOL It’s a hard-driven fact in the Baptist belief…that whatever sins you commit, your children will pay for.
              I’ve often wondered what my mama or daddy did….considering the prices I have paid. Hahaha.


              • Hmm…that would be unjust, since it was not the childs fault nor could the child choose his/hers parents… How do they explain those who have sinning parents but seemingly do not get to “pay for their parents sins”? Or howcome one child might get to “pay a lot” but not the others at all?


                • That’s a good question. Maybe it’s because the children are (as the Baptists say) serving the Devil…so they are “protected.” I have a hard time grasping the fact that there are supposedly “Devil worshipers” out there. It would literally scare the shit out of me…to even think about that. Yikes.


  2. 😯 So sad. Even my kitty Tangle got upset and tried to type a reply here with her tiny paws.
    It is a tragedy indeed. But on the other hand, perhaps the real tragedy was their lives.. If there is a Heaven, they are surely “better off” when they are dead, horrible as that sounds to say. 😦 If there is nothing after Death, well then at least they do not “feel” the sadness and loneliness anymore… so either way, the conclusion for me is that their death is mostly a symbol of their tragic lives. That being said, being human, it still seems horrible and sad that there are people who actually do not get even a single person that will mourn for them.. ! This makes me hope (Even with my lack of faith), that there is indeed something else after death, a place that is peaceful and full of happiness… one can always hope!

    It is good that you brought this up, these people do deserve that we give them a thought!


    • Running EMS, I came across the drug addicts and homeless and mentally ill. I even had to transport dead bodies to the morgue for autopsies. There were bodies there but only three or four. Some of them were unknowns and when I asked what happened to them, the coroner said “we incinerate them.” They incinerate them together…bury them together and the only specificity is the lone numbered marker.
      I know I had never really given any thought to just how many unclaimed bodies there are out there.
      If there is something after death, maybe all of these souls are finally free…and warm…and clean….and maybe somebody “up there” cares about them. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG. FORTY THOUSAND??! The country has a worse problem that is ‘advertised’ doesn’t it? All those poor people, ending their days unmourned and alone. Damn. It just got real cold here or I got a horrible chill thinking about that. Time to go find some fuzzy puppy pictures to look at! And another mug of hot tea… you have a good day today!


    • I was blown away when I heard that. One of the coroners was asked approximately how many bodies he had picked up in his career and when he said “around 21,000” I almost fell out of my chair.
      It’s so sad. There was even a newborn little girl that had been found. She was buried along with all the others.

      Liked by 1 person

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