Mother fined for taking to long to grieve at baby’s grave after funeral
(DAILY MAIL) When her son died at the age of only five weeks, Terrie Rouse was naturally heartbroken.
At his funeral, she could not bear to leave his tiny coffin and spent a few extra precious minutes with it before allowing it to be taken away for cremation.
Her grief turned to shock, however, when officials told her she had taken too long to say goodbye – and fined her £86.
The 32-year-old said: ‘The vicar had asked if I would like to spend a bit more time saying goodbye.
‘I sat by the coffin for ten minutes, telling my son how much we loved him and begging him not to be scared.’
But officials at the crematorium, which is run by Milton Keynes Borough Council, routinely impose an extra charge if any funeral runs over its 30-minute slot.
And so on top of the standard baby cremation fee of £32, Miss Rouse found herself facing the £86 fine for her tearful farewell.
That was despite the couple’s funeral directors saying there was still plenty of time for the next funeral which was not due to take place for another 50 minutes.
Last night Miss Rouse’s partner Lee Smythe called the imposition of the charges ‘sick and disgusting’.
‘Terrie was weeping hysterically,’ he said. ‘She just wanted a few extra minutes to say goodbye to our much-loved little boy.
‘How could anyone be cruel enough to charge for this?’
The couple’s son Zane had died in their arms at their home in Great Linford, Milton Keynes, from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on April 9.
The family had to wait for three months before they could have a funeral to allow for tests to be carried out on his little body.
Mr Smythe said: ‘It was distressing enough having to wait for the funeral because we were left in limbo, but this has just made it all worse.’
He added: ‘If we had over-run by 30 minutes and had held up proceedings for other people I would understand but this was ten minutes. I really feel like the bosses are taking liberties. All wedrink were doing was saying goodbye to our son.’
He described how close family and friends went to the crematorium following a service at St Andrew’s Church.
‘When the service ended I was finding it very difficult so went outside,’ he said. ‘My friends came out to comfort me and I knew Terrie was still inside and distraught. She just wanted to say goodbye to Zane and tell him how much we loved him.
‘Nobody told us to speed up or said that we had to leave because we were taking up too much time.
‘I think it was about ten minutes before I went back inside to get Terrie and still nobody said anything about paying extra.
‘I was completely baffled when I heard that would be the case.
‘My understanding was there was at least 45 minutes after we left before the next service so we did not hold anybody up.
‘The crematorium is not like a cinema, the aisle doesn’t need cleaning. I don’t understand it.’
A council spokesman said the authority was ‘sorry’ for making the extra charge.
‘We understand that sometimes more time may be preferred and so families are offered the chance to book extra time if they need it,’ he said.
‘This means when funerals that have not taken up this option over-run, a fee is automatically charged.
‘However, when we learned that there were extenuating circumstances we, of course, refunded the extra charge.’