A mother whose son was stillborn is calling for an investigation after his ashes were not returned to her for over a year, reports the Northern Echo. A spokesman for Speckmans Funeral Service, part of Dignity Funerals, said: “We collected the cremated remains and returned them to the funeral home with the intention of contacting the family but unfortunately a member of staff did not follow our usual procedures and this did not happen. A senior manager visited Ms Heaviside to profusely apologise for this oversight and assured her that our procedures have been reinforced so that this does not happen to another client.
An incident of negligence like this can sometimes be an indicator of institutional negligence. This being so, it is entirely permissible to speculate on what other negligent conduct may go on at Speckmans, and therefore the entire Dignity plc operation, that we don’t know about because it doesn’t reach the press.
Baby funerals are carried out under contract. They normally don’t make any money for a funeral home and, where they don’t, may be an invidious duty — a nuisance. And so we are entitled to speculate, without over-exciting Dignity’s libel lawyers, whether the failure to put Ms Heaviside in touch with her baby’s ashes was simply because no one could be bothered. We are entitled to wonder what other carelessness might have been accorded to other babies in Speckmans’ care.
Corporate funeral directors customarily respond to a scandalous incident by promising to reinforce procedures. Were it the case that the staff at Speckmans had slipped up because no one cared enough, it is unlikely there would be the remotest chance that reinforcing procedures might incentivise them to give a damn from now on.