Grieving mum told to ‘pick up’ dead partner from morgue after funeral cancelled

Sonya Smith said she was “in bits” after Heavenly Funeral Services in Hull, Yorkshire, allegedly called to tell her to collect partner Rich Birch’s body after the funeral was cancelled

Sonya Smith was “in bits” after allegedly being called to collect her partner’s body

A grieving mum was told to come and ‘collect’ her dead partner’s body after the funeral got cancelled leaving her “in bits”, she claims.

Sonya Smith – whose boyfriend Rich Birch died from a burst brain aneurysm – said it felt like she was “being kicked when I was already down” when funeral directors called her.

The 41-year-old had arranged for Heavenly Funeral Services, in Hull, Yorkshire, to handle the cremation and service following Rich’s death on October 3.

The beloved dad, 51, had collapsed in front of his nine-year-old son Riley and Sonya, reports Hull Live.

The family then agreed to have his organs donated.

Dad Rich Birch lived with a brain aneurysm for seven years


Hull Daily Mail / MEN Media)

But with Sonya still processing the loss of her long-term partner she said she received the call from the funeral home as she was taking her son to school.

At the time, the home had had Rich’s body for a week and Sonya was awaiting a meeting the following day to discuss the arrangements.

“I got a phone call from a not very sympathetic and abrupt voice [which] said ‘I’m sorry but we are not able to do the funeral any more and we want you to get him picked up’,” said Sonya.

Rich collapsed in front of his son Riley, nine


Hull Daily Mail / MEN Media)

Rich and Sonya had been together for 15 years


Hull Daily Mail / MEN Media)

“I was just so shocked. I don’t even remember what I said in response. I felt like saying ‘what on earth am I supposed to do, send a taxi?’

“I’ve never had to do anything like this before and didn’t even know what to say, I just said ‘what do I do?'”

Riley’s school office then phoned Heavenly Services and arranged for a director to collect the body.

Sonya said: “I was in the right place at the right time, they’ve been amazing. Without them, I think I’d have had a nervous breakdown.

“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when they rang and told me,” she continued, remembering the call.

“I don’t like to think about what might have happened if Riley’s school hadn’t helped me. I was just in bits.

“But I just worry for the other families who must have been affected as well, who might not have the support that I do, and how they’re feeling right now.”

Rich had lived with Sonya, his partner of 15 years, in Greatfield, east Hull, with their son Riley nine, and Sonya’s older son from a previous relationship.

Rich discovered he had a brain aneurysm in 2013, after he was scanned following a mild stroke.

He lived with the knowledge that it could burst at any time, and it went on the Sunday morning of October 3, when he was at home with Sonya and Riley.

Sonya agreed to donate his organs while he was on life support after being told he was brain dead. Surgeons managed to transplant his kidneys and liver, and his heart was used for medical research.

His funeral is now being handled by Mike East Funeral Services and is scheduled for October 28.

The Mirror has contacted Heavenly Funeral Services for comment.

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