It’s hard to imagine how a funeral for a five-week-old baby lost to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) could become a more heartbreaking occasion for grieving parents.
But Terrie Rouse, 32, was shocked when she discovered she’d been fined £86 by her local council for lingering too long at baby Zane’s funeral, by ten whole minutes. Rouse explained the incident to The Sun:
Heartbroken Terrie said: “The vicar asked if I would like to spend a bit more time saying goodbye. I sat by the coffin for ten minutes, telling my son how much we loved him, begging him not to be scared.”
Terrie and her partner Lee Smythe were devastated when Zane died suddenly of SIDS in April at their home in Milton Keynes, Bucks. The couple waited three months for Zane’s body to be tested before he was released for funeral services. Terrie’s partner Lee described his outrage to Sky News:
“Terrie was weeping hysterically,” he said. “She just wanted a few extra minutes to say goodbye to our much-loved little boy.
“Nobody told us to speed up or said that we had to leave because we were taking up too much time. How could anyone be cruel enough to charge for this?”
A council spokesperson apologized for the charges and told Sky:
“We understand that sometimes more time may be preferred and so families are offered the chance to book extra time if they need it,” he said.
“This means when funerals that have not taken up this option over-run, a fee is automatically charged.
“However, when we learned that there were extenuating circumstances we, of course, refunded the extra charge.”