Kim Droptiny’s son Gabriel, an English teacher for pre-schoolers, died of a drug overdose in Berlin last September at the age of 28.
A funeral was held for him in Berlin, but his mother wanted his ashes and urn sent to the family in Oregon.
But when the package arrived in November, Kim was shocked to find the remains of her son were largely missing.
“When we received the urn it had been broken and 80 percent of the ashes were gone,” she told The Local. “We opened the cardboard box and it was lightly packed with only newspaper. That was the biggest shock.
“Ashes were in the box and in the newspaper and the urn had a hole in it and almost no ashes. Of course this was emotionally extremely hard. It was devastating.”
Kim, 56, who also lives in Berlin, asked her German son-in-law and a lawyer she knew in Berlin to get in touch with Segenius, the company who sent them.
“We said we would pay for the cremation but we refused to pay for the transport of the ashes,” she said. “We had a lawyer in Berlin send that information to them. They ignored the lawyer and wrote to us direct that not only were they going to make us pay for the transport of the ashes, but now they are charging interest on top of it all.
“They are charging us interest from October but we didn’t even receive the ashes until November.”
After refusing to pay for the transport, the family has now received a letter from Segenius telling them they will take legal action against them for the unpaid bill of €573.
Segenius said in a statement to The Local that the urn was packed “sufficiently” and blamed US Customs for “probably” breaking it.
“We regret this incident and know only too well what it must be like for the family,” they said.
But the statement added: “Funeral expenses of €573 have not yet been paid and a court order for the payment has been initiated.”
Do you have a story for The Local Germany? Email [email protected]