‘Just unimaginable’: Woman says USPS lost grandfather’s ashes

Sophia Hall
August 31, 2020 - 2:59 pm

A Long Island woman on Monday told a heartbreaking story to WCBS 880 about her grandfather’s ashes being lost in the mail amid changes to the postal service.

Laura Helfner, of Dix Hills, tells WCBS 880 her grandfather was a kind person who always went out of his way to help others. She notes that in his free time, he advocated and worked to help blind and disabled students.

laura helfner
Photo credit Laura Helfner

“He helped form the Nebraska State School for the Blind, and then went on to serve as the principal for the Kansas State School for the Blind for many, many years,” Helfner explains.

Helfner says her grandfather was more of a father figure to her and when he passed away at the age of 88 in Nebraska, his final wish was to be buried next to his wife, who died in 1997, on Long Island.

Helfner’s grandfather was cremated and when she thought his ashes would arrive, she instead found an empty tattered box. She tells WCBS 880 that both the urn and her grandfather’s ashes were missing.

“I just don't think words can accurately describe the emotion that I had when I saw the condition that the box was in,” she said.

Photo credit Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

On the box, there was a sticker that read, “We care,” to apologize for the inconvenience, but the sticker that was supposed to say “Human Remains” from the funeral director had been ripped off.

“What ensued when I came home on Thursday was just unimaginable and now, he's just lost,” Helfner said.

Helfner says she has contacted the postal service and they told her they were investigating the incident. However, the USPS did not return a request for comment. 

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