Funeral Home Switches Grandma's Body For Different One

The Mount Auburn Funeral Home in Stickney, Illinois, mixed up the tags on a couple of bodies, so that when mourners showed up to view 91-year-old Lillian Grogan on Monday, they instead saw a different lady wearing Grogan’s clothes and jewelry. When a granddaughter tried to find out what the funeral home had done with the real Grogan, she discovered the woman had already been buried. She was exhumed and reburied yesterday. Hey, at least cremation wasn’t involved.

The funeral home referred questions to its parent company, Houston-based Service Corporation International. Company spokeswoman Jennifer Brandino said the families had requested the company not disclose information about the mix-up.

“We continue to work with both families involved and are committed to resolving the issue to their satisfaction,” Brandino said.

Why did the quaintly named Mount Auburn Funeral Home refer questions to SCI to explain what was obviously a local mistake? Because if you’re going to be owned by the country’s largest funeral home corporation—it’s like the Buy n Large (or maybe Umbrella Corp) of “end-of-life services”—you may as well use it to hide behind when you screw up.

“Grandmother’s body switched at Ill. funeral home” [Chicago Tribune]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    That’s like this film I saw, “Death at a Funeral” the coffin shows up, not his dad. It was pretty funny, but then again, I guess IRL that would be sad panda.

    But the movie is 4.5 stars and 10.0 in the laugh scale in my book. “My father was a great man…”

  2. NumberFiveIsAlive says:

    Interesting story, although as a consumer in an entirely different state with no loved ones (god willing) about to die, this story has no relevance. But I don’t be a jerk and point it out. That would be rude.

  3. raremoth says:

    I’m sorry you don’t have loved ones and you are about to die. Maybe if you get out more you can get some friends.

  4. Joey B says:

    When my dad died, the funeral director asked me if I wanted to see his body before he was cremated. I scared the hell out of him when I told him it was the wrong body.

    He told me about another funeral home he had worked at (briefly) that had two bodies with the same last name. One was to be cremated and the other to be shipped cross country. By the time the shipped one got to its destination and the family noticed it wasn’t their dearly departed, the other body had already been cremated.

    What exactly is The Consumerist approved response by a funeral home in a situation like this?

  5. Scuba Steve says:

    @Joey B:

    What exactly is The Consumerist approved response by a funeral home in a situation like this?

    Damage control. Tons of damage control.

    Depending how the family/diseased feels about their departed loved ones, and about how badly the funeral was ruined by the mixup, and how many people had to travel long distances, it could mean a refund of the entire funeral expenses, sans casket cost, and a free additional showing upon request.

    Personally, I’d rather not have a funeral home involved at all in my burial. I want to be buried under a tree. An oak one.

  6. chiieddy says:

    In my family no-one would have known. No open caskets.

  7. Cortina says:

    @Scuba Steve:

    “Depending how the family/diseased feels about their departed loved ones, “

    That’s a very Freudian homonym you used there.

  8. celticgina says:

    I’ll admit it…I generally have a terrible “giggle” response at funeral homes when I have to plan a funeral. (Think of Mary Tyler Moore at Chuckles the Clown Funeral)
    When picking out my mom’s casket, in the ‘showroom’ I had a hard time NOT laughing. I kept thinking of a car dealership….

    Honestly, my first reaction would be to laugh….of course, if my mother were told that story, she would laugh too….and then be horrified that someone else was ‘wearing her clothes’.

  9. DrJimmy says:

    SCI. Of course.

  10. SkokieGuy says:

    “Our premium line of caskets are waterproof and airtight
    and contain extra padding for the ultimate in comfort”

    Oh, and you want fries with that?

    P.S. Costco sells caskets, and without the hype.

  11. aphexbr says:

    @Wormfather is Wormfather: Yeah, great movie. I don’t know why it got such bad reviews, I laughed a lot.

  12. Scuba Steve says:

    @Cortina: that should be family/friends of the deceased, I got a little mixed up there.. still early in my neck of the woods.

  13. Skipweasel says:

    @Cortina: That’s a homophone.

    Perhaps I’m rather unsentimental, but what was gained by digging up the stiff and replanting it again later?

  14. RandomHookup says:

    @Cortina: I once got a resume which listed a reference as “diseased”. Either way, not particularly useful for getting a job.

  15. My sister is the office manager for 3 funeral homes owned by the same family in our town. This sort of mixup actually happens more often than people might think. Not terribly frequently, but once every couple months. Luckily they have never cremated the wrong person, and they work very hard to make sure these things happen as infrequently as possible.

    Still people screw up, and despite best efforts occasionally you end up with a “comedy of errors” type situation.

    On the up side everyone in our family gets free cremation, (or a discount on burials… though we all plan to be cremated).

  16. MercuryPDX says:

    Hey, at least cremation wasn’t involved.

    Thank goodness for small favors. So is it safe to assume the “non-Grogan” woman either had no friends to mourn her or a closed casket?

    The whole funeral home thing just creeps me out. I’m opting for cremation after they harvest whatever they can, no wake, maybe an “ash scattering” ceremony. As low budget as you can go, since you can’t exactly just leave me at the curb with the recyclables.

  17. mzhartz says:

    I used to work for a charity that raised funds for sick kids. More often than I liked, a child would pass away.

    One time when a toddler passed away, the family went to put bows in her hair for the viewing, and the funeral home had switched bodies. In this case, the other one was supposed to be cremated.

    Talk about traumatic.

  18. TechnoDestructo says:

    Perhaps funeral homes should ask for copies of the deceased’s photo ID?

  19. mitchy3333 says:

    First of all, i am one of the grogan granddaughter’s. I am most certainly suprised at these ridiculous comments posted here! mabybe ur all have issues. I don’t know if all u have heard correctly but to all who brings up movies or should i laugh. IF U DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING GOOD TO SAY SO THEN SAY ANYTHING AT ALL!!! At least have RESPECT for my GRANDMOTHER & my family. i don’t know where u all r from. obviously, thank goodness no where close to us.

  20. varro says:

    I blame the OP’s relative for dying.

  21. consumerman1 says:

    The reason that the remains get mixed up easily is because SCI uses centralized embalming in most areas of the company. When your love one dies and you call ABC funeral Home, They are not the one who comes out. It is SCI removal service and they are taken to a central location to be embalmed and the the next day taken to your funeral home. All the remains are embalmed at this location, but each funeral home in the cluster has different pricing for removal and embalming.
    When you need a funeral home, please go to an independent funeral home.

    SCI wants to do nothing more than seperate you from your money.

    Former SCI Employee