Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Help Me Howard: Ashes
They were going to be cremated in a week. Then were told they were put in a refrigerator and they forgot about them till you called. Is that legal? It's why one grieving widow called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser
WSVN -- When most people think of Hurricane Andrew they remember the devastations, the misery.
When Ramona Gilder thinks of the hurricane she smiles.
Ramona Gilder: "We fell instantly in love absolutely positively."
Ramona is talking about Terry Gilder who came to her house to help her repair the place, he never left.
Ramona Gilder: "And everybody said we were soul mates and everything, and it was an amazing wonderful man amazing marriage."
Terry and Ramona were married for 18 wonderful years.
Ramona Gilder: "That is our first Christmas together."
Then in February he had heart problems.
Ramona Gilder: "Had a triple bypass in February never, never recovered from the triple bypass in February."
A few months later, Terry was diagnosed with cancer.
Ramona Gilder: "And then all of a sudden the chemo just took affect on him."
On November 12th Terry passed away. Ramona could not let go of him.
Ramona Gilder: "I held him for two hours and he was gone."
Ramona then paid a Fort Lauderdale funeral home $1,030 to take care of Terrys body and cremate him.
Ramona Gilder: "She said it would take seven days for him to be on refrigeration, which I didnt understand, but I didnt like it but what am I going to do. I can't do anything about that."
Seven days passed then 14 days passed and after 20 days got in touch with the funeral home.
Ramona Gilder: "I called the funeral home and they said 'oh my goodness. we forgot him. We left him in the refrigerator we forgot him.'"
Ramona says telling her they forgot and left her husband in a refrigerator for 20 days stunned. Her even worse she says was the way the funeral home employee told her.
Ramona Gilder: "The way they talked to me about when they put him in refrigeration and forgot him, they laughed. How can anybody be so cruel."
Terry death devastated her. What happened afterwards is destroying her.
Ramona Gilder: "I am absolutely positively freaking out. I am beside myself I cant work, I cant sleep, I cry all the time."
Heart broken but at the same time angry at what they did to Terry.
Ramona Gilder: "I am livid about the whole thing its a slap in my heart and my face. I feel like I have been so deceived."
Well Howard, can a funeral home claim to forget about your loved one and then just say ooops?
Howard Finkelstein: "No lawyers dont have the right to say oops..doctors dont have that right and funeral directors dont have that right. This is a violation of the law because you have 48 hours from an agreed cremation date or the day you sign the contract. Because they broke the law they can be fined and disciplined. And if its the second offense they can lose their license."
I went to the funeral home to talk to them. The door was locked. They would not let me in. I called half a dozen times and the owner never called me back. Then called Florida's Department of Financial Services, which oversees funeral homes. They offered to contact Ramona to see if she wants to file a complaint, she does.
The funeral homes attorney then called and pointed the finger at the crematorium where Terry was sent. He says they lost the paperwork and that delayed the cremation. The crematorium says they didnt lose it the funeral home never sent it.
Ramona Gilder: "When he died his spirit and he went to heaven and this is just the shell that was his body."
The funeral home has now given Ramona a plastic bag containing Terrys ashes. If you have never seen a humans ashes its a strange sight, but getting them will finally end Ramona's nightmare.
Ramona Gilder: "I havent had any peace whatsoever. I am a nervous wreck. I cant work, I cant do anything. I have just been waiting for his ashes so i can put a final finality to it."
Patrick Fraser: "Howard says, since the funeral home broke the contract they could be forced to refund some or all of the money Ramona paid for a timely cremation."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
To file a funeral home or cemetery complaint, call 1-800-323-2627