|A Certain Kind of Death
(2003). Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock
New York: Wellspring. DVD / VHS documentary.
What happens if you die and there are no friends, no family, no spouse — no one — to dispose of your body, arrange your funeral, attend to your personal effects or take care of any number of the details of your demise? Unknowingly, you kick off a chain of events, procedures and protocols that may or may not be compatible with your “last wishes,” for you enter the status known as “no next of kin.”
A Certain Kind of Death is an amazing piece of documentary filmmaking. Given unprecedented access to the processes that go on behind the scenes when someone with no next of kin dies, the filmmakers present a stark and moving portrait of this “certain kind of death.”
Coincidentally, an article in the Oregonian tackled this exact subject just days after I viewed the film. A video embedded in the article shows an employee of the state medical examiner’s office explaining how he searches for next of kin.