‘I buried my husband with 600 friends..I buried my dad and there were three’: Grieving family on saying goodbye at a funeral in lockdown

A grieving daughter has spoken of her anguish at planning her father’s funeral just eight months after laying her husband to rest.

By Jacob Farr
Friday, 17th April 2020, 3:36 pm
Mike Sanders, far right, pictured on daughter Katie Morton’s wedding day, with bride Katie, her twin sister Emma, far left, and wife Pat. Picture: contributed
Mike Sanders, far right, pictured on daughter Katie Morton’s wedding day, with bride Katie, her twin sister Emma, far left, and wife Pat. Picture: contributed

Katie Morton’s dad Mike Sanders, 75, from Craiglockhart, sadly passed away at his home on April 1 after contracting Septicaemia and Covid-19.

Mrs Morton, who says she has now lost “the two most amazing men in her life”, said herself, her mum and twin sister were the only attendees at her dad’s funeral due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Sanders and his wife, Pat Sanders, 70, had contacted 111 when he began to suffer breathing issues and uncomfortable effects from a urinary tract infection.

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He was advised to stay at home and take a round of antibiotics and to monitor his temperature. Unfortunately his condition deteriorated and he suffered a mini seizure as his wife frantically tried to resuscitate him whilst on call to the emergency services.

Due to coronavirus being cited as a secondary cause on the death certificate this led to Mr Sanders’ family having to quarantine for two weeks without being able to offer one another comfort.

Government guidelines also meant that no hearse could be used and that Mr Sanders’ body would have to be safely stored until family members were able to attend the service.

Only ten people would be able to attend the crematorium and this led to the family deciding on an intimate service where Mrs Sanders and her twin daughters Katie Morton and Emma Sanders, 43, were the only people in attendance.

Mrs Sanders, said: “It was hell not being able to see my girls and hug them for two weeks. And meeting up before the funeral we all had to distance ourselves in the house and were not able to properly hug or comfort each other.

“There was not a lot we could do about the funeral arrangements as there were a lot of rules and regulations surrounding the crematorium. It was a very weird place to be in.

“We decided it was best to have an intimate send-off for him with a big party for all those who wished to attend sometime next year.”

This differed greatly from the funeral service that Mrs Morton had to plan for her late husband, Willie Morton, 58, just over eight months ago. Hundreds of mourners attended Mortonhall for his funeral with over 600 at the wake.

Mrs Morton said that under normal circumstances her father’s wake and service would have seen similar numbers due to the level of messages that the family have been receiving.

She said: “He was a very popular guy and lived life to the full and as much as it was awful he went the way he did, it was not as if he was a shadow of himself and he lived life till the end.

“We have been blown away by the support and private messages we have got and how much my dad has influenced other people’s lives whether through sport or work.

“For my husband’s funeral we streamed the event online as he was well loved around the globe, as was my father. However this time we have had to have a more intimate send-off considering the current circumstances. In a way the intimate ceremony helped as we could process our grief without having to hold it together for a large service.

“William Purves [Funeral Directors] helped with both my husband and my father’s funeral and they were brilliant each time. They ensured that my father’s body was removed hours after he passed so that my mother could start to process the loss.

“Nonetheless it was extremely difficult not being able to hug my mum or sister for two weeks. I have now lost the two most amazing men in my life.”

Mr Sanders was a much loved and respected man who was admired across the rugby world and automotive 

This was thanks to his time as president of Edinburgh Northern Rugby Club and his career within the automotive industry – having most recently worked with Honda.

Several organisations and bodies have set up and given donations to Sepsis UK in honour of Mr Sanders.

David Collingwood, Director of funerals at Co-op Funeralcare, said: “It’s crucial we support families and communities during these devastating times, and ensure they feel part of their loved one’s funeral even if they can’t physically attend.”