The stench of decomposing flesh pulsed from a funeral home into a Michigan neighborhood as maggots wriggled along the garage floor near cardboard-boxed corpses stacked along walls.
The dead can’t complain, but on occasion — through rot — they scream for judgment against the living entrusted with prompt and solemn cremation or burial. Of 10 bodies found in the unrefrigerated garage at Swanson Funeral Home in Flint last year, one was not embalmed and had been there about six weeks. The Michigan attorney general filed complaints against the business, but it remained open until July — after inspectors again found bodies in the unrefrigerated garage.
The Flint business is one of several funeral homes in the U.S. in recent years that have been forced to close after similarly gruesome discoveries, usually only after someone has complained to local authorities. Funeral home regulations vary across the U.S., with some states requiring annual inspections and several requiring no inspections at all. Michigan is among those that review funeral homes when they apply for a license or when a complaint is filed.