Earlier this week, the Times reported on a terrible mix-up at a funeral home that resulted in a family holding a funeral for and then cremating the wrong woman. Today, the Grey Lady reports that the son of the wrongly-cremated woman is horrified about what happened to his mother, and is traumatized about missing her funeral.
Donald Little's mother, 82-year-old Annie Pearl Little, was mistaken for Val-Jean McDonald after both died in late December. The McDonald family held an open-casket funeral for their late family member and cremated her body before McCall’s Bronxwood Funeral Home in the Bronx alerted them to the error. "She’s dressed up and paraded around in other people’s clothes and jewelry," Little told the Times, after he was shown photos of his mother in someone else's coffin. “People kissing her and taking pictures. It’s heartbreaking I couldn’t do that.”
Little didn't know his mother's body had been claimed until he saw the Times article. The funeral home sent him an apology note: “Please accept my apologies for mistakenly having your mother Annie Little cremated." Little says his family doesn't believe in cremation, and that his mother was supposed to be buried next to her late husband at Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island. "I’ve been having bad dreams about her being burned up," he said.
Little reportedly plans to sue the funeral home, which is being investigated by both the state's Division of Cemeteries and the Bureau of Funeral Directing. It's unclear how the mix-up happened, but when the Times showed the funeral home owner photographs of both Annie Pearl Little and Val-Jean McDonald, he seemed unable to tell the difference. "Looks like the same woman to me," he said. This is just the sort of fastidious attention to detail we all look for in a funeral home!