‘It’s heartbreaking’: Family of funeral home mix-up still waiting for full refund

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It’s been six months since the mix-up of two bodies by Greek-owned funeral parlour, Euro Funeral Services, and one family is still waiting for an apology and full refund of the funeral costs as promised by Director, Spiros Haralambous.

The family has spoken directly to The Greek Herald about the ordeal and say they are ‘heartbroken’ by the recent turn of events.

“My ongoing struggle with the way this matter has been handled is disgraceful. The fact that my children and I carried a stranger to his grave,” Kerry Demetriou says.

“It has been over 6 months since we lost my dad and having to continue to deal with this matter daily, is like reliving his loss daily. The pain and grief of knowing that I never had the opportunity to bury my father is heartbreaking.”

READ MORE: Funeral mix up sends shockwaves through Sydney’s Greek community.

They say they were not given a chance to properly farewell their father as the man they buried was the wrong person. That man was exhumed, while their actual father was buried on February 13 at Rockwood Cemetery without the family present. They were told by the funeral director they were not allowed to attend due to NSW Health Department regulations.

George Demetriou.

Now, they are in the process of fighting for full compensation as promised by Mr Haralambous in media interviews with Channel 7 and 2UE Radio after the mix-up.

“This for me was to be some closure, that after everything we had endured we would at least receive this money back,” Kerry says.

READ MORE: ‘Terrible thing to happen’: Greek Australian family reflects on shocking funeral mix up.

Timeline of events:

According to documents obtained by The Greek Herald, Mr Haralambous did advise the deceased man’s daughter, who was “the applicant of the funeral,” of the mix-up and sought her approval and signature to exhume the body of the other family’s father.  

In a review of the incident by The Funeral Directors Association of NSW Ltd, they say that legally, the applicant was the only person “to whom all issues must be communicated to” by Mr Haralambous.

But the family involved in the mix-up say the daughter was struck by grief at the time of consent and therefore they believe Mr Haralambous’ actions were unjustified.

As a result, in an email dated February 19, 2021, and sent to Mr Haralambous, the family ask specifically for (a) a full refund, (b) for Euro Funerals to make the appropriate arrangements for their father to be exhumed again for a more dignified funeral, (c) for Mr Haralambous to personally apologise to all children for the mistake, and (d) for Mr Haralambous to make a fair and reasonable compensation payment to avoid unnecessary court proceedings.

Now, according to the review from The Funeral Directors Association of NSW Ltd, Mr Haralambous has apologised to the daughter, but as mentioned above, the family want an apology to all its members.

READ MORE: Funeral home’s horror coffin mix-up has happened before.

In addition, Mr Haralambous has stated in an email sent to the family, dated February 25, 2021 and obtained by The Greek Herald, that “we have no hesitation in providing a full refund for the amount as indicated on our invoice,” which is $10,315.18. 

But so far, the family tell The Greek Herald they have received no money and to receive the full amount, they must sign a waiver which they say they are yet to see. This is also confirmed by Mr Haralambous’ February 25 email seen by The Greek Herald.

“We have attempted to solve this respectfully outside of the legal framework with no result. In honour of my father, it is our intention to ensure that this situation is finalised and handled with the dignity he deserves,” Kerry says.

“My intentions here is to ensure the community is aware of this situation, so that no one else needs to go through the heartache I have had.”

The family is hesitant to sign the waiver and as a result, it seems only time will tell what the final outcome will be.

Euro Funerals Comment:

Both families have been privately and publicly provided with sincere apologies and we have already and will continue to release comprehensive responses and statements on our business and personal platforms.

The Director took full responsibility and did not in anyway attempt to justify or play down the incident and from the outset has offered and continues to offer a full refund to both families.

A Full refund has been offered via our lawyers to the family and in this instance we are still awaiting for a response to resolve the matter from the family solicitors.

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