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My mum’s ashes were given to me in a paper bag...

My mum’s ashes were given to me in a paper bag...

by Tom Martin (October 2020)

A WOMAN from Maghull was “shocked and appalled” when her mum’s ashes were handed over to her in a paper bag.

Pauline Kershaw was devastated when her mother, Catherine Taylor, 86, passed away recently and a funeral took place with social distancing and a limit on the number of attendants.

But when Pauline went to pick up her mum’s ashes from the funeral director afterwards, the heartbroken daughter told the Champion she was given them in a paper bag.

She said: “I wasn’t expecting them to be in a fancy urn, but it felt like I was picking up a takeaway meal and not mum’s ashes.”

The funeral directors say the ashes were handed to them in this way from Thornton Crematorium and Pauline has since complained to Sefton Council.

She said: “My mum lived in St Nicholas nursing home in Netherton and they allowed us in to be with her when she was put on end of life care the week before she died. I was lucky to be able to spend that week with her, and the staff in the nursing home couldn’t do enough for her or us. I was grateful to have that time with her and she wasn't in any pain.

“She knew we were there and she had a very gentle passing.

“Then we had the funeral and given the current circumstances around Covid the service was very nice. So up to then I was handling things quite well - until we collected the ashes.

“We were devastated to see the way she was presented to us and we couldn't believe it. This wasn't a takeaway meal we were picking up, it was our mam. We can't believe that people’s loved ones are treated with such disrespect.

“We weren’t expecting a fancy urn, but something  more substantial than a paper bag. We would have appreciated being warned that this was the way she would be returned to us, and maybe given the opportunity to provide a container of our own. The distress I felt when I opened that box and saw a paper bag will stay with me for a long time. I’m struggling to accept a paper bag as a suitable or respectful container.

A spokesperson for Sefton Council said:  “Our staff at Sefton Crematoria and Cemeteries always treat people with the utmost respect and we understand that the death of a loved one is a difficult and emotional time.

 “Sefton Council follows standard industry practice and presents ashes in a cardboard casket with an additional internal paper bag. This cardboard casket is biodegradable and is therefore ideal for those who wish to bury their loved ones’ remains.

“Funeral Directors would usually discuss the range of alternative receptacles available with families, so that an informed decision can be made, and can transfer ashes into another urn in accordance with the family’s request.”

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