Burial mix-up leaves family digging mum’s grave
A Townsville man says he was forced to dig the hole at his own mother's burial service when the family arrived to find nothing had been prepared.
Colin Garrow says his requests for a refund had fallen on deaf ears after having paid $462 for the burial of his mother's ashes at the Belgian Gardens Cemetery, with the service also including preparing and digging the registered plot.
But family members were left fuming when they arrived at the cemetery on Saturday and the hole had not been dug.
Mr Garrow's cousin Warren had to leave the service to bring back his own electric digging tool, resulting in the pair digging the hole before resuming the service.
Mr Garrow said he contacted staff at the cemetery on Monday and says he was initially told he could be able to receive compensation, but follow up calls on Tuesday resulted in staff telling Mr Garrow he had requested for the ceremony be held a week later on November 30.
"I never said I wanted to bury my mother's ashes on November 30, I have been saying for weeks that it was to be held on November 23," Mr Garrow said.
"I texted all my relatives saying it was on November 23; every conversation I had with staff at the cemetery was for the ceremony to be held on November 23."
Mr Garrow's mother Rhoda Garrow (nee Haden) died in 1989 with her son keeping her ashes while he searched his family tree, leading to the discovery of the burial sites of his mother's parents at Belgian Gardens.
Mr Garrow was determined to bury his mother's ashes alongside her parents, but he wanted them to have a fitting resting place.
"It was really nothing more than patches of dirt and there were no memorials," Mr Garrow said.
"It took a lot of time and hard work and between my cousin and myself - and family - we raised funds.
"It was a project that went for 11 years, so to have this happen to us at the 11th hour is so frustrating."
Mr Garrow said he paid for the registration a few weeks ago and was told that no one from the cemetery would be working there on a Saturday, since it's closed.
"But they said they would be able to dig a hole for us, place a cover on it, and we could fill the hole back in with a shovel that we had to return to them," he said.
Mr Garrow said he struggled to put words together during his mother's burial ceremony.
"I made a speech about the past 11 years and what it all meant to us, and I couldn't talk," he said.
"My sister helped me; we were standing behind the hole we had to dig."
After enquiries made by the Townsville Bulletin, the Townsville City Council confirmed it had provided Mr Garrow with a refund.
"The burial of a family member is a difficult time regardless of the circumstance," a council spokesperson said.
"Council records show that Mr Garrow phoned the Belgian Gardens Cemetery office on November 20 to book the date and time for the internment of his mother's ashes, which was to be 1pm on November 30.
"Council acknowledges confusion around the date of the burial was distressing for everyone involved. Council will provide a refund for Mr Garrow."