MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A state investigation by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance now focuses on a Memphis funeral home that’s also the focus of a Netflix reality show.
“Buried by the Bernards” gives a comedic glimpse into what happens day-to-day at R. Bernard Funeral Services in Orange Mound.
But the investigation is no laughing matter, especially for the family involved.
For years, Alfred Velasquez’s mother Anita lived with him while getting dialysis. Earlier this year, her body gave out.
“She died on hospice due to kidney failure,” he said.
Velasquez said he called R. Bernard Funeral Services because the hospice provider recommended them. He hired them to cremate his mom. Her dying wish was to have her ashes spread over the ocean. A few months later, the family went to Florida to spread her ashes, but they were startled by what they found in the urn.
“We noticed someone else’s information inside the bag of ashes,” Velasquez said.
They saw a paper with another woman’s name. They decided not to spread the ashes and instead called the funeral home.
“They asked for the disc number on the ashes. It was ‘450.’ They’re like, it’s my mom. At that point, we don’t believe them because it’s someone else’s information,” he said.
When they got back, they filed a complaint with the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors.
In R. Bernard’s written response to the state, they blamed a paperwork mix-up and stated they accidentally put another person’s label inside Velasquez’s urn.
WREG went to the funeral home to get a response about the complaint, but management wouldn’t answer our questions Monday and instead referred us to their lawyer.
“We understand why they are upset, but the fact of the matter is we can assure them they have the correct ashes,” attorney Randy Fishman said.
But Velasquez said an apology from their attorney is not enough. He wanted proof.
“I feel like it is happening to other people because the other family I’m talking to, Luz Acevedo’s daughters, they got two cremation dates, when she was supposed to be cremated a month after my mom. Nothing adds up,” he said.
He’s hoping to meet with R. Bernard management for them to prove what they say happened.