A funeral home is accused of botching a Brooklyn woman’s afterlife by neglectfully cremating her body instead of preparing it for a Buddhist burial.
The children of Mei Xian Tan, who died in January at age 87, are suing those who allegedly mishandled her final rites, depriving them of a farewell in accordance with the Buddhism and Confucianism traditions they practice.
Without those rites, they believe that their mother’s soul “would be in a perpetual state of limbo and suffering…live in poverty and shame…be unrecognizable to anyone she encountered in the afterlife…not be able to reach Nirvana (and) the plaintiffs and their descendants would be cursed by their mother’s soul,” according to court papers filed Wednesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
The woman’s family contend that they bought a burial plot and arranged with Wah Wing Sang Funeral Corp. in Chinatown for a pre-burial cleansing and an open-casket ceremony complete with burning of symbolic paper images and other rituals.
But a day before the service, the complaint stated, they received a call from the parlor’s director Gordon Wong, who told them that their mother’s remains were cremated and offered no explanation as to how the mistake took place.
“This was very traumatic for them,” said family lawyer Daniel Gregory, who brought the suit with attorney Marcus Cheung, asking for unspecified damages.
He added his clients “didn’t have the emotional fortitude to tell friends what happened” and only advised them of the mishap when they arrived to pay respects at the cancelled ceremony.
Tan’s son and two daughters, all in their 50s, named Wah Wing Sang as a defendant along with a Staten Island funeral home that was tasked with transporting their late mom’s body from the Canarsie nursing home where she passed from complications of cancer.
“This is a very humble family and they just want to know the truth,” said Gregory, pointing out that they can’t be sure it’s truly ashes of their loved-one that were given to them or whether there’s another family that received the wrong remains.
The lawyer said that Tan moved to the U.S. from Guangzhou, China in 1983 and raised her three kids by herself.
Calls to the funeral parlors named in the suit were not returned.