Why Do This?
 
Some people ask why I search for next of kin for complete strangers. There are layers to that answer that go something like this: My brother Jim. Foster children who have complicated family  ties. Homeless and indigent people. Immigrants. My experience with genealogy and finding family for children in foster care. The desire for a puzzle to solve. The satisfaction when I one is resolved.

In Patrick's Lynch's foreword to the book "The Good Funeral: Death, Grief, and the Community of Care" by Thomas G. Long and Thomas Lynch, Patrick Lynch writes that funerals should be nothing less than an existential experience containing particular elements: "someone has died, someone to whom that death matters, and someone to broker the message between them." 

My work makes possible that exchange between the one who has died and the one to whom their death matters. I've seen this time and again. Children seeking birth parents. Parents seeking wayward children. Nieces. Brothers. Cousins. Even those who did not love the person who died, appreciated knowing he or she was gone.