A grieving daughter claimed council officials may have cremated the wrong body instead of her mother.
The woman said her mother died suddenly of a heart attack last November and she was holding a funeral for her next month.
However, in February she received urgent emails from both the coroner and local authority officials urging her to register her mother’s death so that funeral arrangements could be made.
Officials claimed her mother’s body was still in hospital in Shrewsbury.
Woman ‘blindsided’ by council email
The email from Shropshire Council’s public protection officer read: “The reason I have been asked to help is that your mother remains in Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, her death has not been registered and her next of kin have not been given instructions about her funeral”.
The woman, who spoke to the Telegraph on condition of anonymity, claimed the email “blindsided” her and left her living in “absolute hell”. The council has since apologised, claiming it was an “administrative error”.
However, a series of blunders and incidents at the hospital and funeral home where the woman last saw her mother left her convinced that “the wrong body” may have been cremated.
He said: “All of us will now be forever convinced that the ashes we have are not real and it doesn’t matter what they say or do. We’re just going to have doubts about it and it’s not going to go away.”
Misspelled name tags on corpse
In the days after her mother’s death, the woman went to visit her at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital but noticed her name was misspelled on her wrist tags.
This made her very upset and the mortuary staff promised to remove the tags and fix them. She now believed that the wrong name tags could possibly have been placed on her mother or that the tags could have stopped.
A few days later, the woman went to visit her mother at the funeral home where staff told her: “I’m sorry, I’m telling you right now, for your own good, you can’t see her.”
They added that it was not possible for her to see the body as it was “mutilated beyond recognition, green and disintegrated”.
“This seemed strange to me as her body was in relatively good condition when I had seen it at the hospital a few days before,” the woman said.
“What they did is irreparable”
She now believed there was “a good chance” the funeral home staff were not talking about her mother’s body.
“These factors, together with the email, lead me to believe that the wrong body was taken to the funeral home and then cremated, despite the subsequent explanation from Shropshire Government,” he said.
“What they’ve done is kind of irreparable … There’s such low trust that, of course, this could have happened.
“That would put the fear of God into anyone really, wouldn’t it? Because if this can happen to one person, it can happen to anyone. And none of us should live in fear that this could happen to a loved one or ourselves.”
“Robust process in place” at the hospital
A Shropshire Council spokesman: “Shropshire Council is aware of these concerns following an email being sent in error and has contacted a family member to apologize for any distress caused.
“The council is only responsible for recording deaths that occur in the county. As the public would expect, we cannot comment on the specific details of any case.”
Sara Biffen, acting chief executive at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases but would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family at this difficult time.
“We would like to reassure people that we have a robust process in place at our cemeteries to ensure that no misidentification takes place. We will try to work closely with the family to offer all the support we can.”