USPS Apologizes For Declaring Living, Breathing Man “Deceased”

deceasedEvery parent dreads the possibility of outliving their children. So imagine the shock when one mom found out via the U.S. Postal Service that her son had died. Now think about how the not-at-all-deceased felt when he learned that he’d been declared dead by the post office.

WCCO in Minnesota reports that a local man recently noticed that he was no longer receiving any important correspondence through the mail — just junk.

That’s because his mail was being returned to senders with the word “Deceased” printed on the envelope in red letters.

“It almost caused me to have a heart attack,” the man’s mom recalls. Apparently not wanting to believe what the USPS so boldly declared on the envelope, she called her son and left a message. “I said, ‘I just got two pieces of mail back that were supposed to come to your house, and you’re deceased. What is going on? Call me.’”

Making matters even more painful is the fact this was the second time that the man’s mom had bad news come to her doorstep. Twenty years earlier, the police came to tell her that her son had been in a terrible accident. Now she was being told that this same son was dead.

The perfectly not-dead (and apparently not undead) son called his mom to tell her that all was well, but that didn’t answer the question of why USPS had decided it was his time to shuffle off this mortal coil.

“I was very frustrated, I was scared, I was thinking, ‘I hope somebody’s not trying to pull a practical joke on me,’” says the man, speaking from the same plane of existence as the rest of us.

Eventually, they figured out that the problem started when a different family filed a request asking that the mail delivery for one of their actually dead relatives be stopped. Somewhere along the line, some wires got crossed and the USPS went all George RR Martin on the unsuspecting living, breathing man.

“It was our mistake,” admits a USPS rep, presumably through a bulletproof window. “In any event, this is a mistake that shouldn’t have happened. Postal policy is that mail for a deceased person should be returned only if it is known that the individual is deceased and the mail cannot properly be delivered to another person.”

The family is suggesting that USPS require some sort of proof, like a death certificate, before declaring a person deceased. Of course, even that can’t stop someone from making a clerical error that results in the wrong name or address being entered into a computer.