After 54-year-old Eileen McClean died her family had her cremated, but when they went to spread her ashes they stuck on the ground and lingered for months – sparking fears that what they scattered wasn’t ashes
Image: Mary Newlands/SWNS)
A family who scattered their dead gran’s ashes are terrified they may have actually spread the contents of a vacuum bag.
In a feared crematorium mix-up, the family of Eileen McClean gathered for one final goodbye to the great-of-six.
However they noticed the ‘ashes’ lingered and stuck on the ground, instead of being blown away into the wind.
Now the family are “heartbroken” fearing that they actually dumped out a vacuum bag instead of the ashes of a beloved one.
54-year-old Eileen died from a pulmonary embolism on November 23, 2020, and a service was held for the mum-of-four at Kirkcaldy Crematorium on December 3.
That’s when her relatives began to suspect something was up after her ashes stuck on the ground for months.
They were notified by crematorium staff last week that they had been sent home with the wrong remains.
Grieving daughter Mary Newlands, 36, of Kirkcaldy, Fife like her mother, said: “I’m heartbroken. I feel number. We’ve scattered someone where my mum should have been.
“I feel for the family of this mystery person that we’ve scattered.
“We have to relive all of this. She’s got six grandkids, and they’re going to have to go through it again. One of the younger ones helped to scatter the ashes.
“The other day she got confused and emotional – she started crying when we said we’d have to say goodbye again as she thought we’d already done it.
“There are still so many unanswered questions. She was only 54.
“She didn’t deserve to be left on the shelf for a year and a half.”
However, Mary has been informed that no one else is unaccounted for at the crematorium.
This has prompted fears that instead of spreading the ashes of someone else, they may have scattered the contents of a vacuum bag.
She added: “We thought we’d scattered her ashes on December 11 at the crematorium, next to my gran and grandad.
“She always said she’d she’d want to go with them. The crematorium said no one is missing.
“Basically someone’s emptied their hoover and we’ve scattered it, either that or it’s been a pauper’s funeral and they haven’t done the paperwork properly.
“The ashes took forever to disappear, you could still see them in February. They wouldn’t go away Now we know why.
“My gran and grandad didn’t want to accept the ashes because they didn’t know who it was.”
The news came to light last week when Mary got a call from crematorium staff saying that the family had been given the wrong remains.
Liz Murphy, bereavement services manager at Kirkcaldy Crematorium, said: “We are extremely sorry this has happened, and we’ve apologized directly to the family for the distress this has caused.
“We have very rigorous control processes in place.
“We’ve carried out a thorough audit and we can account for all the ashes in our care.
“We have also asked for independent verification which has confirmed the outcome of our review.
“Our investigations involving all partners in the cremation process are continuing and we will keep the family informed of the results.”
Funeral director Ian Johnston said: “I’m absolutely devastated for the family.
“It was 16 months they were under the illusion that they dispersed the ashes only to then find out that it wasn’t their mother. It’s just awful. I can’t express in words what they’re going through.
“We do pride ourselves on the care and compassion that we give to the families, and the aftercare.
“Clearly something has happened here and we’re hopeful that the investigation will bring that to light.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.