Family unwittingly buried a complete stranger at elderly relative's funeral

An investigation has been launched after a family unknowingly buried the wrong person at a funeral due to a mix-up with bodies.

Mourners of the man’s family and friends had no idea the body in the coffin was actually a complete stranger.

The service, held on July 6, mistakenly buried the wrong elderly man at St Mary’s Church in Rockcliffe, near Carlisle, the News and Star reported.

The man buried that day was actually another north Cumbrian pensioner, who was a year younger than the man thought to be in the coffin.

Authorities in Cumbria have now launched an investigation into the matter after the mistake came to light.

A spokesperson for North Cumbria Integrated Care Foundation NHS Trust told the News and Star: ‘We are supporting the funeral directors to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families at what is already a difficult time.

‘We are undertaking an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident and will share the findings with the families once this is complete.’

The error was recognised on July 7 when staff at the mortuary of Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary contacted the funeral directors and asked when the body of the man meant to be buried at Rockcliffe would be collected.


The buried man then had to be exhumed as he should have been cremated on July 13.

But due to the mix-up, the cremation was reportedly carried out a week later at Carlisle Crematorium.

The man who should have been buried at Rockcliffe was then interred in the right grave in St Mary’s graveyard on the day of the exhumation.

A spokesperson for George Hudson and Son Funeral Directors said: ‘Our sympathy goes out to the families involved. Our family have been funeral directors for more than 150 years and nothing like this has happened before.

‘Clearly, something has gone terribly wrong. We handed in paperwork for the man whose body we believed we were collecting. There are protocols to ensure we have who we think we have.

‘We didn’t realise we had another person’s body. We feel for the families.’

All exhumations must be approved by the Home Office, a process that can take several days.

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