Can’t afford to bury loved ones? Often, states can’t help

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Dying in West Virginia comes at a huge cost for some families, particularly in late winter and spring.

In a trend that some funeral directors blame on the opioid epidemic, the state’s indigent burial program has run out of money months ahead of the end of the fiscal year. According to the state Department of Health and Human Resources, it’s at least the fifth straight year that’s happened.

The drug blight has ravaged the entire Appalachian region. West Virginia has the nation’s highest drug overdose death rate by far, with 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

At least 17 states and the District of Columbia offer financial help for indigent burials. West Virginia’s DHHR has paid for more than 10,000 of them since 2011.