Dec 21, 2007
A 79-year-old woman, Mary Ann, dies in Los Angeles. She's lived alone for decades. No one knows her—or her next of kin. There's a body to be buried, a house full of stuff to get rid of.
It so happens there's a county bureaucracy for just this type of problem. In this show, we follow around the person charged with figuring out what to do with the remains of Mary Ann's life. This and other stories about what happens when people are left alone.
- Mary Ann was an elderly woman living by herself in Los Angeles County. She wasn't married, didn't have children, wasn't in touch with any of her family. When she became sick and went to the hospital, the only contact she had was Sue, the woman who delivered her prescriptions from the pharmacy. Then, Mary Ann died. There was a body to be buried, a house full of stuff to get rid of—but no family or friends to deal with it all. Luckily, there was Emily, an investigator for the Los Angeles Public Administrator's Office. It's her job to take care of the remains of lives like Mary Ann's. Eric Klinenberg reports the story. He's a sociologist, whose most recent book is Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. (15 minutes)