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.