By Kurtis Ming

MODESTO (CBS13) – A Modesto CBS13 viewer says he struggled to get the love of his life cremated, and called Kurtis to investigate.

Together for 18 years, they weren’t legally married. That got in the way of a funeral.

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“It feels like I have an open wound,” said Rodney Widenhouse.

All Widenhouse wanted was to put Kelly, his partner, to rest.

“It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night,” he said.

But because they weren’t married, the funeral home couldn’t cremate her until they found her next of kin who were estranged. Her body sat in refrigeration for weeks.

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“It feels like there’s a hole in my heart and it can’t be mended because I can’t, I’m in limbo,” Widenhouse said.

The funeral home says preplanning your funeral can avoid this. Also, if you’re not married, or immediate family, make sure you give someone power of attorney.

Widenhouse helped the funeral home find Kelly’s next of kin. She was cremated seven weeks after she died and Kelly’s family released her ashes to Widenhouse.

“I can’t describe it any better than a big sense of relief,” Widenhouse said.

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When it comes to funeral arrangements, a common law spouse is not recognized in California. By law, a funeral home or coroner must wait at least 30 days to cremate when family members can’t be found. That gives time to track down next of kin.