‘That's not my mum': Family's shock over funeral mix-up

‘That's not my mum': Family's shock over funeral mix-up

Margaret Locke

Emotions run high for grieving families. Dianne De Jager said she was preparing herself mentally, on the drive to the funeral. 

The family were so proud of Margaret, she was loved as a Mum, Grandmother and Great grandmother. Margaret was loud and big hearted, a lady who always spoke her

 mind. She was a mother of four children, a great Mum who worked as a nurse. Everyone in the family adored her. Dianne had prepared memorabilia and a letter to place in the casket with her Mum.

Margaret’s children and their children were gathering to ‘say goodbye’ to someone they had known all their lives. They had not known life without Margaret. Each of them were gathering to honour a very special person, who had always been involved in their lives.

Dianne arrived some 25 minutes before the funeral, to view her mum and place a letter and memorabilia with her. Imagine her shock as the casket was opened and she was looking at a stranger.

In horror she said ‘that’s not my Mum’. Unbelievably, the Director replied ‘that’s definitely Margaret, she was tagged as Margaret’

After repeating ‘its not my Mum’ several times, Dianne took out her phone and showed him a photo of Mum. A stranger telling her she didn’t recognise her own Mum!

The Director apologised but then suggested they continue on with the service. Common sense would surely suggest they delay the service whilst they consulted with the family and decided on a way that the situation could be remedied. Keeping in mind here, we’re talking about an experienced Funeral Director, who has been looking after families for years.

Dianne heartbroken, said she felt sick, she didn’t want to be there, she was so distressed. “None of that eulogy really sunk in, or hit me because I wasn't really listening properly, I wasn't there really. It just made me feel so empty and blank," Dianne said.

“It's just wrong. You're supposed to be there grieving the person you loved and you can't, it's taken away from us," Jesse Thatcher, Margaret's grandson, said. He went on to say he felt they used their vulnerability of the moment and just pushed us. The funeral should have been postponed, they should have been able to wait for the right body to be there, so then it be done properly.

The speaker at the service, invited guests to approach the casket, to sprinkle petals to play their last respects in honour of Margaret, they were unaware that it wasn’t Margaret in the casket. The guests proceeded outside to release purple balloon, Margaret’s favourite colour.

It is unbelievable that this devastated family couldn’t have been given options as to how to proceed.

The funeral should have immediately been delayed whilst the family had time to settle their emotions and come to a better solution. Grief makes us overwhelmed, unable to make decisions an experienced funeral director knows this

Delay the funeral, till later in the day. No matter how far the guests have travelled, they could have all gone away to have a cup of tea or a light snack, whilst the funeral director corrected the problem. Better still, cancel the funeral, sort the problem and start again. The funeral director persuaded the shocked family to proceed! And every one said goodbye to a complete stranger .

Funeral director didn’t believe her, she was forced to pull out a photo!

What was going to be explained to the family of the woman in the casket?

It is widely acknowledged that most mistakes, accidents that happen in the workplace, are by experienced workers, long time workers in that particular industry. It is thought that they become complacent, over confident and so don’t attend to detail as much as they should. The mistake of presenting the wrong body at the funeral of Margaret Locke, could be because of this.

How many reminders did the funeral director have whilst preparing for Margaret’s funeral.

The grandson spoke to the journalist from A Current Affair, said that he had been told that when two deceased people were picked up, the tag slipped off one of the body bags and was then probably placed on the wrong person. So, they didn’t double check? When they were preparing Margaret in the Mortuary, there should have been an identification check, before she was placed in the casket.

The deceased person being prepared for a funeral is handled by the person who does the transfer back to the Funeral Home. They are received by the Funeral Home, then prepared by the Mortuary. The person arranging the funeral didn’t ask for a photo?

For many people, arranging a funeral is a first time experience. The Funeral Director is responsible for getting it right. Asking the questions, making sure that every base is covered.

Clarke Family Funerals have offered their sincere apologies for this regrettable experience.

Our hearts go out to Margaret’s family.

You only get to say Goodbye to your Mum once.

It would be very healing for them to have a memorial, an open floor, with everyone sharing their memories, through tears yes, but also with laughter at the moments of life that Margaret shared with them.

Rest in Peace Margaret Locke.

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Lady Anne Funerals is here to support and assist your family through what can be a difficult time, with a ladies touch. 

We are available to discuss a range of services to support your family, including: 

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Some of the families we've helped

My family and friends were very happy with every aspect of the preparation and celebration of the end of my wife. When I knew the end was near I spoke to Yvonne who explained to me what would happen and this was done with delicacy and tact. When the end came Yvonne came to our house and explained every aspect of what would happen. We explained what we wanted for Margaret's farewell and nothing was too much trouble for Yvonne to explain or discuss. On the day of the funeral everything went like clockwork and all my relatives and friends told me how impressed they were. So thank you to Yvonne for being celebrant and MC at the farewell and thank you to all the Lady Anne team. If I were asked to score the service my family received  it would be ten out of ten.
Dick Hodge
I would like to thank you and the whole team at Lady Anne Funerals for making mums funeral the perfect goodbye. The funeral was everything and so much more than mum wanted. Nothing seemed to be too hard and that made my time far simpler than i had expected. 
The whole day was perfect and we noticed with love all the special touches from the bookmarks to the candle to the display screen with Iris's. Thank you so much. Your team felt like part of the family rather than people doing a job.
That i believe is what sets Lady Anne apart.
I cant thank you enough.

I want to send a heartfelt 'thank you’ to you both, and your team, for your compassion and your assistance in taking meticulous care of Dad and arranging such a beautiful end of life service for him. Within a matter of only a few days, which included a weekend, you were able to organise the perfect service tailored to our requests.

Not only did you organise the attendance of the RSL representative, you also went to considerable trouble to download the music and videos we had chosen, in a format that could be utilised in the service.We greatly appreciated your guidance too with organising the order of service and arranging a printed copy of the tributes for one of our friends who was deaf.

Thank you Yvonne for doing a magnificent job as the celebrant. We greatly appreciated you reading our tributes to Maurie on the family’s behalf. Thank you too for reading the poem, 'The Dash’ so beautifully.

It was comforting for our family and friends to come together in a more intimate setting, which your chapel provides. The light refreshments, which followed the service, were ideal, allowing the family to stay on and share their memories.

Dad quite often had high expectations of the way things should be done, bless him, so I was particularly mindful of doing him proud with this last expression of our love for him and a tribute to his long and meaningful life. We achieved this, with your help, and I know he would have been deeply touched and honoured. Thank you for you for all you did.


"I just wanted to say a big thank you to you and your amazing team. I couldn’t have asked for things to go any better. Everything was perfect. And your ladies were beautiful. Your Yvonne is amazing. She is patient, compassionate, caring and delivers perfection in all the elements of the proceedings. She has been an absolute Gem.

Once again thank you so very much. I would highly recommend anyone to use your company if they want a perfect funeral service. 5 star service. 5 star outcome.

There were multiple compliments on the service, on your ladies and on the care from the attendees. I’m more than happy for you to post this on any media platform as a compliment and tribute to your company.

Thank you."

Anne Leslie
“I just wanted to send you our sincerest thanks for everything you and your incredible team did for us in making the most perfect day, celebration and farewell of our beautiful Harper.

I have given a lot of thought to your business and the industry and I think it is perhaps the most important business for families to get it right when it comes to planning a funeral which may be sudden or may be a long time in the making. Either way, when one is faced with the unfortunate situation of needing to arrange a funeral, only then do you realise the importance of getting it right.

We experienced first hand the polar opposites the industry offers. It is not just about the cars, the booklets, the music and all the things that make up the day - its about the service, the care and most importantly it’s about the people.

From our very first conversation we could sense your genuine care to our situation and your attention to detail was obvious - this was very different to the previous conversations we had with others we had been referred to. Those other companies wanted to commence meetings with the paperwork side of things upfront which is a very confronting thing to do just days after losing your loved one - and when one of the others that I am referencing couldn’t even refernece our daughters name as our meeting started - we were horrified of how poor the service of care could be.

This is where you and your team shine. After feeling very lost in our search to secure the perfect funeral director to create the perfect day, my wife all of a sudden recalled you standing out the front of your office each morning watering the surrounding gardens to ensure a beautiful front of house. Well, I can assure you, it is not just the front of house that is beautiful - its the entire package that is beautiful.

Your manner, your direction and your expertise is evident from the get go. Nothing is too hard for you or your amazing team. The personal care made us feel like we were the only funeral you were working with at the time, and that’s exactly how it should be.

The finer detail, such as driving past our house so our daughter could go past our house one last time, then leaving the most beautiful flowers on our doorstep, to bumping into us at the Church because you were just doing your own research to make sure the day was seamless. This combined with your recommendations from every aspect as everything was very foreign to us, you were able to guide us to achieve the most beautiful farewell.

The day itself was simply perfect. Not once did we have a concern. The car was shining, your team dressed beautifully, cold water provided for us, directions for our guests, directions for us. Everyone commented on how amazing the day was and how incredibly your team were. Seamless is the only word I can use. It doesn’t stop here.

Your personal care and guidance then allowed us a more intimate farewell the following day (we are so grateful for for this recommendation and possibly would have missed this special day if you had suggested it was the best idea). Again, you and your team made us feel like you had nowhere else to be, and no one else to help. Just us. The setting was beautiful, the celebrant (that you arrange and recommend) is a delightful, your team make this day even more special than the last.

This is something we never want to go through again but there will be so many others, that like us, have no idea where to start to look for the right funeral director for their own special day. All I can say is that I hope that they appoint Lady Anne Funerals. We learnt a lot quickly and it is again a business many do not ever consider needing but without question one of the most important businesses to select the right person and the right team.

I welcome any of your future potential clients to contact me if they wish to discuss our experience with the amazing Lady Anne team. We thank you for giving our beautiful baby the most incredible farewell that was exactly how we imagined it, you just made it happen.”

Lee Dowdall

“We wish to thank you for having helped us put together a beautiful farewell for our mother, one which she would have been delighted with.

It was a difficult day and it would have been worse without your synchronised, seamless and consistent presence as well as attention to detail.

We value your candour as the people you are and the very sensitive manner in which you conducted the service.

Thanking you from the bottom of our hearts,

The Pastore Family
Karen has supported my Mum and me through the most difficult week of our lives as we not only planned a funeral, but interred my Dad to his new home. I will be forever grateful to Karen for her ongoing support, guidance, kindness, empathy and friendship over the last week. Karen has now become part of our extended circle of close family friends.
Daughter of the late Sveta Dordevich
Lady Anne Funerals has the compassion, understanding and empathy that many of the larger funeral homes do not possess. My aunts funeral was dignified and classy everything she deserved. I would highly recommend Lady Anne (and have) as they go above and beyond.
Joanne Marks
I am overwhelmed with the feedback on how beautiful it all was from all who attended. You and the other ladies were wonderful, looked so elegant, and made the day so very special for all who loved Paul.
Barbara Sommerville Enright
Karen and her staff treated us with the utmost respect we could not have been in better hands during this difficult time. My mum had organised her funeral with a prepaid funeral plan which she had purchased from Karen almost ten years ago this also made this upsetting time much easier to deal with and she got all the things that she wished for.
Malcolm Ellis
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank Lady Anne Funerals for a beautiful service yesterday for my aunt Dot. All who attended commented on how lovely the service was & the professionalism of all the staff. Thanks again very much for helping making a sad day one of celebration of Dot’s life.
Judith Neville