THE family of a much-loved grandmother have spoken of their devastation at her sudden death.
Michelle Pearce was found dead by her husband Chris at her Eastney home just before Christmas.
The mother of six was only 45 years old and appeared completely healthy.
But a post-mortem discovered she had a deadly blood clot, which moved from her leg to her lungs and killed her when it burst.
Mrs Pearce’s daughter Charlene, of Hayling Island, said the family are struggling to cope in the wake of their beloved mother’s death.
‘We’re coping day by day,’ said Miss Pearce.
‘We’re trying our best to get on with our lives but it’s hard to get our heads round because there was no indication that she was unwell.
‘She didn’t complain of feeling unwell. Mum wasn’t even a smoker.’
Mrs Pearce’s six children, Alfie, 29, Charlene, 27, Pascale, 19, Amarnie, 18, Demi 17, and six-year-old Sommer, are comforting each other, and their father, at their Cumberland Road home.
Mr and Mrs Pearce were childhood sweethearts and had been together 32 years, and married for 18 of those.
Miss Pearce said: ‘It was just a complete shock.
‘Mum was very, very maternal and we were all close.
‘She was the link between us, the glue that held the family together. She would do anything for anybody.
‘We used to live in Princess Street in Buckland, and we went to Charles Dickens School.
‘Mum raised lots of money for the school and for the play scheme in Buckland, which we all went to.
‘Mum was really kind. We are just rallying round each other and taking each day as it comes.’
Mrs Pearce, who was a cleaner at the University of Portsmouth, died at home on December 13.
Her funeral was held on New Year’s Eve which Charlene, who is pregnant, said was incredibly tough.
Because she died so suddenly an inquest was opened and is expected to be held later this year.
Michelle Pearce’s family say their grief over her sudden death was compounded by the way her funeral was handled by AG Stapleford & Sons funeral directors and Portsmouth City Council’s cemetery service.
Daughter Charlene claims there were long delays in bringing her mother back from Queen Alexandra Hospital – which the funeral directors say was down to the hospital and coroner.
There were also delays in the coffin arriving and the family had to visit their mother lying on a stretcher – which Miss Pearce described as ‘heartbreaking’.
Miss Pearce says they were devastated when a cross put in her mother’s hand by their father went missing – they found it on the floor.
The family say they were told to find a grave themselves, which they thought was the duty of the funeral director. At Kingston Cemetery they were told to walk around, find one that looked empty and note down the name on the grave next to it.
Miss Pearce claims she wasn’t told where her mother would be buried until the morning of the funeral.
She said: ‘We should have been told many days before.
‘Surely someone must have a plan of the cemetery? Why were they keeping this information back from us? It was an awful experience.’
Portsmouth City Council is investigating Miss Pearce’s complaint and added in a statement: ‘Choosing a burial site is a very personal decision. We don’t produce a map of graves as there are a number of factors that can affect availability.
‘Coffins vary in size, there could be tree roots, a recent burial may have taken place so we wouldn’t want to distress families by digging up the ground, also heavy rainfall could prevent using a particular area.’
It went on: ‘Of course, any issues that happen during the process of arranging a burial can be extremely distressing for all those concerned. ‘
In a statement Stapleford’s said: ‘We regret that the family were not completely satisfied that the service they received was up to our usual high standards.
‘This is despite our best efforts, including opening our Chapel of Rest on Christmas Day for several hours specifically for them.
‘Our manager has met with the family and profusely apologised for not keeping them fully informed when there were delays with the coroner and cemetery that were beyond our control.’
Miss Pearce said that although the chapel of rest was opened on Christmas Day family members could not see their mother because they had not been warned by the funeral directors how much she had deteriorated.