As if losing his wife suddenly last weekend wasn’t upsetting enough for Eyemouth’s Tom Stewart, undertakers took three hours to come and remove her body.
Forty nine year old Liz died instantly after suffering an arterial embolism on Sunday, March 2.
A shaken Tom dialled 999 straight away and paramedics and a local police officer arrived at the couple’s home in Skeldon Brae within half an hour.
Unfortunately the emergency services couldn’t do anything to save Liz so undertakers needed to be called to take her body away.
Tom’s instincts were to call local firm David Martin’s but he was instructed that the removal would have to be done through Edinburgh firm Barclays.
This stems from a decision taken in 2009 to stop smaller local businesses from the process of attending sudden deaths.
Police Scotland have a contract with Barclays to take bodies to Edinburgh City Mortuary in such situations.
Tom was told Barclays could reach anywhere in south east Scotland in an hour but after a call was put into them at 12.15pm it took them until 3.15pm to arrive at the Stewart’s house, leaving Tom angry and distressed.
“She was treated no better than a pound of mince,” he told ‘The Berwickshire’.
“I just wanted her to be comfortable but she was lying on the living room floor for more than four hours after she died.
“The whole thing was upsetting enough without then having to wait all that time for the undertakers to arrive.
“Two hours after the call was made to them they still hadn’t left Edinburgh!
“Nothing I can say will bring her back but she deserved some dignity and respect and she didn’t get any.
“I just hope another family doesn’t have to go through the same with one of their loved ones.”
Police Scotland say they are investigating the incident, with a spokesperson commenting: “We are aware of the circumstances and understand that it is a distressing time for the family.
“We are looking into this matter, and our condolences go to the family at this difficult time.”
Barclays themselves said they were unable to comment.
As well as her beloved husband of 12 years, Liz leaves behind two sons, a step son and step daughter and three grandchildren.
Brought up in Coldingham, she was highly thought of in the area, and the Stewart’s house is full of condolence cards.
“She wasn’t involved in any particular group in the town she was just a very friendly person,” step daughter Kelly-Anne said.
She was laid to rest after a funeral on Monday and Tom was full of praise for David Martin and his team for all their help.