Family devastated as they are told their relative’s grave is full

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The grave where Margaret Miller wanted to be buried
The grave where Margaret Miller wanted to be buried

By Cara Sulieman

A GRIEF stricken family have lost the plot in a row over where to bury a beloved relative – after being told the lair she had bought in advance was already full.

Margaret Miller died last Monday aged 88 but had already pre-arranged to be laid to rest next to her parents, even paying for the right.

But a misunderstanding in the way graves are allocated means there isn’t actually enough space to squeeze a third person into the same spot.

Now her grieving family have to cremate her instead so her ashes can be interred – the only way they can respect her dying wishes.

“Dump her in a skip”

Otherwise they would be forced to bury her in a new graveyard only just being built.

Furious nephew, Kenneth Miller, said: “They might as well have suggested dumping her in a skip.”

The plot they were offered instead is in the new part of North Berwick cemetery, which is still under construction.

But the family decided it wasn’t suitable because it would go against her wishes of being next to parents Andrew and Margaret Miller.

Two deaths

Kenneth said: “We weren’t going to go ahead – we simply couldn’t as it wasn’t suitable.

“The only thing separating the alternative plot from a neighbouring skip site is a mesh fence and some newly planted hedges, and when we visited the lair there was a lot of noise coming from the skip site.”

It has been a hard time for the family, who have had to deal with two deaths in the past month.

Kenneth said: “My brother Eric passed away on August 3 and this is the last thing my family should have to deal with; my father, Bob Miller, and I are very angry that my aunt has not been laid to rest in the way she clearly wanted”

“Questions need answered”

Now they want to know why staff at Co-operative Funeralcare in the town didn’t spot the mistake when she made the reservation.

Kenneth added: “The staff at the North Berwick Co-operative branch were very helpful and understanding of our situation.

“But the bottom line is that there are questions that need to be answered here.

“Why did no one bother to check if the lair my aunt wanted was suitable at the time she actually booked and paid for it?”

The undertakers say that they have done their best to resolve the situation, agreeing with the family that once Margaret Miller is cremated her ashes will be interred with her parents.

“Now resolved”

A spokesman for the company said: “We always act on the instructions of the client purchasing the funeral plan and we trust that they are fully aware of the facts surrounding the grave space previously purchased.

“This matter has now been resolved to the satisfaction of the family.”

The local council also claimed that the new cemetery extension has seen successful burials already.

A spokeswoman said: “Unless there is space for a family lair or a lair previously brought, any burials at North Berwick will be carried out in the new extension to the cemetery.

Difficult time

“Lairs are allocated sequentially in all our cemeteries.

“We try to work with families during a difficult time to minimize their distress and are disappointed to hear of any concerns that the setting may not be appropriate.

“The cemetery extension opened earlier in August and a number of burials have since been carried out there with a general level of satisfaction from the bereaved families regarding the standard and location of the new facilities.

“As with all of the council’s green spaces, we will be carrying out an ongoing programme of maintenance to ensure the newly landscaped areas mature quickly, which will change the appearance of the area.”

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