Smooth vs Chunky
September 1, 2013 12:22 AM Subscribe
Things you do not want to hear 15 minutes before your dad's memorial service: "Uh ma'am? These cremains are kind of... chunky."
posted by DarlingBri to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
TLDR: My father was cremated by a funeral home that did not do a sufficient job, and had to be put through the cemetery's industrial blender moments before his service. I need to contact the funeral home about this, but I'm not sure what to ask for at this point.
Long version: My father died in March in Toronto. His body was removed and his cremation handled by Funeral Home A. In August, my family met in Toronto at Cemetery B to hold a memorial service, followed immediately by an ash scattering service in their rose garden. Funeral Home A was well aware that these cremains would be scattered, as I had apprised them of the schedule for final disposition and needed to get paperwork from them for this. In addition, Funeral Home A manually split these ashes into two halves a week before the service; they definitely handled them. I assume they did not do this blindfolded and would have seen the state of the cremains.
Cemetery B, which is not associated with the funeral home, provided on our arrival a nice man to dispense the boxed ashes into an urn for the service and then into vessels for the scattering. Just before the service, he pulled me aside and told me that the cremains were "chunky" and not suitable for scattering due to substantial bone fragments. After a quick consultation, he offered to run the cremains through the cemetery's machine to re-process them, and that's what we did. The cemetery worker who did this said to me "This was just lazy. We all went to the same school and they know better than this." Had the cemetery not had their own crematorium on-site so they could basically put the cremains through a blender at the last minute, I don't know what we would have done.
I am... not happy. On an emotional level, this is not the conversation you want to have right before your dad's service and not an awesome memory to take from the day. On a practical level, we paid Funeral Home A just over $3,000 CAD for removal and cremation (this was not the cheapest funeral home but was the easiest to arrange the day my dad died) and I am pissed because the service we paid for was not rendered professionally.
I am planning to write to Funeral Home A but I'm not sure what to say. When writing complaint letters, I generally believe in asking explicitly for what one needs to make things right. In this case, that would be an apology and a full or partial refund, I guess, but I am unclear on what would be reasonable here, and maybe struggling a bit with analyzing the tackiness level in asking for money back on a... funeral.
Possibly relevant: this all took place in Toronto. I am back home now in Ireland, so any exchanges that take place now will all be long-distance. In a worst case scenario, there is no way I am suing these people but we do have an estate lawyer in Toronto who could write a letter if necessary.