A daughter has spoken of her distress after discovering that she had been mourning at the wrong grave for 17 years.
Bungling cemetery staff in Burnley, Lancashire, told Catherine Haywood that her mother Cathy's ashes had been buried 500 yards away from where they actually were.
And it was Catherine herself who realised the error had been made, when she wanted to scatter her father's ashes alongside her mother's last month.
Catherine, 60, has urged other families to double-
She regularly visited the plot where she thought her mother was, and was devastated to discover the mistake.
Former carer Catherine said: 'When I learned I'd been going to the wrong grave all that time I felt sick. But I felt numb at first, I didn't cry until I scattered my dad's ashes.
'The most upsetting thing is that my father was going there all those years to the wrong site, thinking it was her ashes there. He was devastated by my mum's death.
'Standing in front of the new plot didn't feel right.
'We don't want to get anyone in trouble, it's a human error, I'm just telling this story so that people might want to check to spare more years of going to the wrong place. We're not blaming anyone.'
When her mother died of stomach cancer in May 1994 aged 71, Catherine and her family said their goodbyes with a funeral service before arranging for a crematorium worker to bury her ashes at Burnley Crematorium.
'Three days after the funeral one of the workers took us to the site,' Catherine said. 'We also had a plaque in the crematorium, but knowing her ashes are there makes it special.
'It's exactly the same as knowing where someone's buried. It was the same as going to a grave.'
In the period after her mother's death, Catherine visited the grave every day, and ever since has been making monthly visits.
After their father, Joseph, died in a road accident aged 84 in February last year, Catherine and her brother Stuart planned to lay him to rest with his beloved wife.
But when they finally prepared to scatter the ashes on their mother's resting place last month, they were led to a different plot and the truth emerged.
Catherine said, 'When I went to scatter the ashes with the crematorium worker I walked past to my mum's plot and he said, "Where are you going?" He had a piece of paper and told me it was there.
'I've been unsettled since then, I've not been sleeping. It was just so distressing.
'I'm doing this so that other people can check where their families are. We can't be the only ones.
'It makes me sad to think I'd been walking past where she actually was all these years. But then I thought, maybe I've been spending time with the ashes of somebody who had nobody. Luckily we had the plaque. She'd be laughing at this.'
Burnley Council bereavement manager Cameron Collinge said: 'We apologise for any distress this has caused. Because the original information was given so many years ago we can't know why it's happened but we've done all we can to sort the situation out once we were made aware of the confusion.'
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