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So to make a horrific situation worse, the funeral home botched my husband's burial. As I believe I previously mentioned, we're very poor and my husband didn't leave any life insurance, will or anything else. His second cousin, who works at a funeral home assured me that he would handle everything and would make sure that my husband had a proper, decent funeral and burial.

The funeral was very nice, but at my husband's internment, my family and I were unceremoniously told by the second cousin, that my husband would not be buried that day, nor would he be buried at the spot where they had placed the casket. He said the reason was because it was raining and the burial site was unstable.

I was not informed when the actual burial took place and only found out by seeing a Facebook post by the second cousin of a mound of dirt with the funeral flowers on it that he identified as being my husband's burial site. I went to visit the alleged burial site, and sure enough, there was nothing there other than the funeral flowers strewn on a pile of dirt. No marker or anything officially identifying that was where my husband was buried. 


I called the cousin who assured me that my husband had a "proper burial", and that the flowers would be sufficient as a temporary marker. He said it would be months before I would be able to put a permanent stone marker in that spot because the ground was so unstable.  He said in the meantime I could make a cross and put some temporary fence around the site.

That weekend, my daughter and I bought the materials to construct a cross marker and enough garden fencing to mark the site. We went back to the site, and the entire area had been bulldozed, filled in with extra dirt and plowed over. There is absolutely nothing there to identify where my husband is allegedly buried. 

I left several messages for the cemetery grounds manager and finally received a call from someone who said he was the manager and he could show me where my husband is allegedly buried. He also said there was no marker. This is of absolutely no comfort to me. With no concrete visual proof of his having been laid to rest, no proof of burial, and no identifying marker, I’ve spent many sleepless nights wondering where my husband’s body is laid to rest or if it has been laid to rest at all, and I’m left with no closure and no way to properly mourn him.

I filed a complaint with the state cemetery board and after their investigation found that the cemetery followed the second cousin's order as a "drop off" case and not a full burial service. The cemetery said this was because the second cousin told them they were only being paid $524 by social services for the burial. This second cousin actually charged me and my sister-in-law cash, and billed social services. When I thought about it later, his actions were despicable that entire day, but I was in such a state of shock and grief I really didn't have it in me to argue. The cemetery said they will disinter and conduct a burial service for my husband at a cost of an additional $1,800, plus whatever additional fees for another funeral home.

I'm so exhausted from the whole thing, I'm ready to just throw up both hands and not even go to the cemetery anymore. He's dead. He's buried somewhere. It's just wondering where is what really bothers me. My therapist suggested I should file whatever complaints necessary until I get closure, but do I really want them to dig him up, view his rotting body, and have them re-bury him again? I don't know if that would give me closure or make matters worse.

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Comment by Jerseygirl2525 (Andrea) on May 21, 2017 at 8:27am

Thank you Steve, for the comforting words and validation. I know in my heart my husband wouldn't want me to feel guilty for what happened. You also bring up a good point; I don't know whether I would want to go visit his grave even if I knew where it was. I guess it's just that I don't have that option is what bothers me. I know my dad once said before he passed that don't bother visiting his grave, because he won't be there. I do take comfort in that my husband's spirit is alive and whole and probably looking down on me struggling with things I need to let go of and move on with my life.

And as far as the cousin is concerned, I've decided to let karma deal with him.

Thanks again, Steve and take care!

Andrea

Comment by Jerseygirl2525 (Andrea) on May 21, 2017 at 8:27am

Thank you Steve, for the comforting words and validation. I know in my heart my husband wouldn't want me to feel guilty for what happened. You also bring up a good point; I don't know whether I would want to go visit his grave even if I knew where it was. I guess it's just that I don't have that option is what bothers me. I know my dad once said before he passed that don't bother visiting his grave, because he won't be there. I do take comfort in that my husband's spirit is alive and whole and probably looking down on me struggling with things I need to let go of and move on with my life.

And as far as the cousin is concerned, I've decided to let karma deal with him.

Thanks again, Steve and take care!

Andrea

Comment by Steve on May 21, 2017 at 7:06am
Hi Andrea, im so sorry to read about this situation. I completely understand how you could feel bad or guilty, or letting your husband down in this scenario, but please, please try hard not to. There is no way you could have known that this could, or would happen. Even if you knew of this cousin was a little shady beforehand, (have no idea) but, nobody thinks in this specific scenario, that a relative or even a friend could do such a thing. We are human beings, its our nature to trust people, especially in these circumstances, and its just so sad, and wrong, when trusted people let us down, or worse, take advantage of our heart and trust. In my personal opinion, your husband knows your heart, sees everything from all perspectives and completely understands the truth. He probably feels so much empathy and understanding and love for you. I know i would feel bad too, however the bottom line for me would be, that cousin has to live with his deeds and heart, karma is so true, you know what you shared with your husband, that bond in my opinion, never dies, i personally believe love continues forever. I know that graves are tremendously important to most people. Nobody is wrong for how they grieve, everyone has the right, to grieve how they need to. For me, personally, i spent a fortune on a service and grave for my partner, and for our family and friends, but i cant stand to go there. For me, its a reminder of the most horrible experience in my life, his passing. I choose to believe he is free, is never at his grave, and has no desire for me to ever visit that horrible place. I carry him in my heart, tell him how much i love him every day in my thoughts and actions, i continue to cherish him daily, in my life, as i do my best to move forward in this new life, i never wanted or requested, without him physically here. I regret, just for me, spending a fortune on a small piece of land, that i never see, none of his friends or family see or visit. I too have trusted family and friends who have hurt me deeply, and i feel sorry for them. It truly showed me what kind of people they are, what emptyness they must live in, to be so hurtful to someone that trusted them. I have separated myself from those people, and do my best to forgive myself, and them, and know my heart was in the right place, not my fault they were so untrustworthy. I wish you peace and comfort and lots of love in your life
Comment by Jerseygirl2525 (Andrea) on May 10, 2017 at 8:50pm

I just wanted to thank everyone for their heartfelt responses, suggestions, and validation. These past weeks I have been just on autopilot going through the motions. I've gathered some of my husband's favorite things, his guitar and some of his tools (he was a mechanic) and intend to find a spot to perhaps build a private memorial here at home. At this point I don't even want to go back to the cemetery.

On another note, the second cousin's father died and he was hospitalized recently with chest pains. 

Thanks again everyone for your support. This is a great group!

Comment by AEDforever (Ali) on May 10, 2017 at 6:25pm

What a terrible, awful thing to have to deal with. I am so sorry that you had to go through this, and are still going through it.  Inexcusable, and I think your therapist is right you should most definitely file complaints. 

Comment by widow85 on April 13, 2017 at 6:42am

Wow. I am so sorry about your horrible treatment.

The family connection of this cousin should mean nothing to you at this point, right? The problem is he will likely do this again and again to other people. If you have the stomach for it, maybe consider calling the police and filing a theft/fraud complaint in addition, specifically for stealing the gifts, as the burial may be considered a contract (civil) dispute. (Any law enforcement types out there who can advise?) It will probably not help your situation, but may deter him from ripping off others in the future. 

Could you create a sacred space somewhere else to visit with and honor the spirit of your husband? (My husband was a native New Yorker and I sort of stumbled upon this rather large metal garden Statue of Liberty on sale on our first wedding anniversary date after his death. So I put it in my yard, planted flowers, and that's where I talk to him.) 

Comment by Seashell on April 4, 2017 at 12:22pm

Your cousin is a cruel man. I am sorry that he has done this to you and others. If you do choose to exhume his body is there someone who knows him that can view him for you? 

I buried my husband's cremated remains near his parents who are located in another state. It is difficult for me to get out there to his grave. At the suggestion of a friend, I created a memorial for him. I placed a toy VW beetle (he had one when we met) and stones with the words, Love, Friend, etc. surrounding it. 

I cannot understand the anger and frustration you must be feeling at not knowing where your husband is. I only hope that you can find peace in any decision you make. Grief has the ability to give you the strength and courage to move walls. I hope that wall will move for you.

Comment by Athena53 on March 27, 2017 at 5:16am

No, YOU did not mess things up for your husband.  The second cousin's actions were a terrible betrayal of your trust at a time when you were most vulnerable.  I was thinking about the trust you have to place in funeral directors after I read this.  I have a container from the mortuary with DH's ashes.  It says so on the label and on the plastic bag within.  Could it be the cremains of a couple of large dogs?  Maybe.  I'm going to believe the labels but I have to trust the funeral home.  You ran into a really bad apple in the business, but people who are grieving rarely have the time to run around and interview funeral directors and get references.

As for pursuing the claim- how will you feel after 5 years if you let it drop vs. if you continue to fight?  Would the answer change if you lost the case?  Only you can answer that- for some people letting go might be the right thing, and for some people, taking action might feel like a good way to try and make things right.

Comment by Jerseygirl2525 (Andrea) on March 26, 2017 at 2:05pm

Athena53,

I'm in the process of filing a complaint against the funeral home, including the cousin. The thing is, at this point I've been feeling like this is really keeping me from healing. My sister-in-law said the cousin actually approached her for money the day of the funeral, telling her that he hadn't gotten paid from social services. She said she actually went to the ATM during the funeral. He also stood at the door of the church and collected all the condolence cards and gifts that were for the family. I'm sure he's done this many times before. In hindsight, I really hate that I even let him do anything for my husband, but at the time I felt like he's FAMILY and you would think that would have done the best he could for his cousin. This whole thing has me feeling like I've messed up everything for my husband, from the time he even got sick to even the poor man's burial. 

That's a good idea as far as a ritual for my husband though, at least that would be something. Thanks!

Comment by Athena53 on March 26, 2017 at 11:59am

Is there any way you can file a complaint against the second cousin for taking your cash, PLUS accepting state funds?  Harder to prove if it was actual cash and not a check, but do you maybe have a record of withdrawing the money from your bank account at the time of the burial?  Or could you at least tell the cousin you're filing a complaint unless he gives you your money back?  You have to wonder how often he's done that before.  He should be accountable for such fraud.

I can understand your not wanting to have your husband exhumed and reburied.  You may want to think about some other ritual to get some closure- maybe bury something of his in a place you both enjoyed and say a few prayers or poems, inviting a few close friends and family if you wish.  Your husband didn't get the farewell he wanted to deserved, but maybe you can do something else.

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