A New York woman is suing the Walter B. Cooke Funeral Home in Manhattan because they returned her mother’s cremated remains to her via postal mail, and they were lost.

What most people probably don’t realize is that sending cremated remains via postal mail is surprisingly common. A great many funeral homes receive cremated remains back from the crematory in this way, and use the postal service to get them back to the family in cases where the family can’t or doesn’t want to pick them up.

In fact, the practice isĀ  so common the USPS has guidelines about it: they must be shipped Priority Mail Express.

And it’s one more reason to do plenty of research about what you want and think you need, before a crisis arises. After all, who would think to ask how cremated remains will be returned to a family?