A mix-up at a funeral in New York City caused a family to mourn a strangerâs body rather than their motherâs.
Val Jean McDonald passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 81 on Dec. 18, 2015. Family and friends from all over the world, as far away as Australia, came to her funeral services at McCallâs Bronxwood Funeral Home in the Bronx on Dec. 29, 2015, according to The New York Times.
At the open casket funeral, the adults in attendance said they didnât notice anything peculiar, but McDonaldâs grandchildren knew something was wrong.
Errol McDonald, one of Val Jeanâs eight sons, told The TimesÂ that his 10-year-old son said toÂ him, âThat doesnât look like grandma.â
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Leroy McDonald, Errolâs brother, told WABC thatÂ his 6-year-old granddaughter said the same to him.
âShe said, âGranddaddy, I donât think thatâs grandma,â Leroy recalled. âI know she took it hard.â
The grandchildren were assured that the woman in the casket was in fact their grandmotherÂ and that age and cancer will change somebodyâs appearance.
However, it was the adults who were wrong and the children who were right.
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On Jan. 5, the funeral homeÂ contacted the McDonald family and informed them of their mistake. The family was called in to identify Val Jeanâs body.
According to a statement from the funeral home, the business is currently under investigation.
âWe have expressed to the affected families our acute distress and sorrow over this occurrence, and we are reimbursing the McDonalds for all costs associated with the funeral,â a spokesperson for the funeral home said.
The family saidÂ they did not ask about reimbursement and werenât aware it was happening until the business spoke to WABC.
âWe didnât really truly say goodbye to our mom like we wanted to to,â Leroy said. âShe didnât deserve that.â
The other family involved in the mix-up was also not charged for their service.
Along with her eight sons, Val Jean had more than 20 grandchildren, almost as many great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren, The New York Times notes.