Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Woman's Body Switched at Funeral Home, Accidentally Cremated: Grieving Family

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Woman's Body Switched at Funeral Home, Accidentally Cremated: Grieving Family

Article excerpt

Funeral home mixed up women's remains: family

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BERWICK, N.S. - A Nova Scotia family grieving the loss of a relative said they were stunned when they went to a local funeral home for her service only to be presented with the bodies of two other women -- and then told their loved one had accidentally been cremated.

Relatives of Sandra Bennett say they arrived at the Serenity Funeral Home in Berwick on Dec. 27 for a visitation following her death a week earlier after a prolonged illness.

They say they had planned to have an open casket service, but when they looked inside they saw the body of another woman dressed in Bennett's clothing.

"I was shocked," Bennett's sister, Carolyn Dominey, said Wednesday. "It's like they degraded my sister's body against her wishes."

Dominey and her daughter, JoAnne, said staff at the funeral home insisted the woman in the casket was in fact Bennett. When they realized it wasn't, the family says they were presented with another body in the casket purchased by Bennett's husband, Gary.

Again, it was not Bennett.

"(I thought) this can't be true. This is something you hear about on a TV show or somewhere in the States, but not in a small community," JoAnne Dominey said from her mother's home.

"No one needs to go through this, especially over the holidays. It's hard enough losing a loved one without this happening. I wouldn't want anyone else to go through this."

JoAnne Dominey said the family was then told Bennett was mistakenly cremated. But, she says it's not clear that the ashes they were given were actually those of Bennett.

"They weren't sure if it was even her ashes," she said. "We still don't know."

Serenity Funeral Home did not respond to a request for comment.

Gary Bennett did not want to comment on the matter, saying it was too emotional and "like going through a nightmare."

His lawyer, Paul Walter, said in an email that his firm was in the process of gathering information and arranging meetings with affected family members.

"This has been unquestionably, an horrific experience for Gary and his family -- an experience that no grieving family should ever have to go through," he said in the email. …

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