Whitney Houston’s funeral home on Enquirer photo: We didn’t take it, it’s devastating

Whitney Houston in her coffin is still on the cover of The National Enquirer, on newsstands everywhere. The issue won’t be replaced until Thursday or Friday of this week. In the two stores that I’ve checked, The Enquirer has been moved behind the other tabloids so that the only thing visible is the headline. Several of you commented on the story that you saw the issue out and visible at a child’s eye level.

Well not only is this photo presumably devastating to Whitney’s family, it could seriously damage the business of the funeral home where it was taken. The owner of the facility where Whitney was interred, the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J., told The Daily News that the leak of the photo was “devastating” to her personally and to her longstanding family business. What’s more is that the owner swears that security guards were with Whitney’s body 24 hours a day up until the private family viewing. So someone in Whitney’s inner circle had to have taken and sold that photo. Despicable.

The respected owner of Whitney Houston’s funeral home said Friday she’s “devastated” a photo of the singer in her open casket appeared on the cover of the National Enquirer.

Carolyn Whigham wants fans to know her family-run business did not sell the now notorious image and that she’s “horrified” by accusations her close-knit staff is to blame, she told the Daily News.

“We did not take that photo. We did not sell the photo. We would never do something like that,” the second-generation CEO of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J., said.

“Whitney was a friend,” she continued. “I’m the one who flew to Los Angeles and got Whitney from the coroner’s office. I did everything to protect her.”

She said a deluge of distressing emails from irate Houston fans now has her fearing for her staff’s safety.

“One email said that if the person owned a dog, and the dog died, they would not come to my funeral home,” she said with sadness. “I’m worried about my employees, worried about me. I’ve been in business since 1943. This is my name, my character. Honestly, this is my life’s work. We would never do something like this.”

She said Houston’s family has made it clear they do not blame her business.

“I am very confident they are on the same page with me. Family friend Tyler Perry was on the Steve Harvey (radio) show this morning, and he said emphatically he knows we did not do it,” she told The News.

She said security was with Houston the entire time her body was at the funeral home.

“They were there 24 hours a day. They slept there with her. She was never alone, anywhere,” Whigham said. “The only time security fell back was when the family had the private viewing Friday. We weren’t involved with that. The family invited its own guests.”

[From The NY Daily News]

Several of you who work in the funeral industry commented on this story last week and we’re grateful to you for your insight, particularly to MorticiansDoItDeader and another commenter who just used an ellipses as a handle. Morticians said that the funeral home should have asked visitors to surrender their cellphones as a precaution given the high profile person interred there. She also noted that the embalmers did a good job with Whitney.

There was also the issue of Whitney being buried in 1/2 million worth of jewelry, which Morticians and many of you considered irresponsible by the Enquirer to put out there, as it could invite grave robbers. Morticians noted that it’s not likely Whitney will be buried in that jewelry. “We take that off when everyone leaves and give it back to the family after the service.” The owner of the funeral home said basically the same thing to The Daily News about the jewelry. “That’s crazy. It’s not true.” Poor Whitney and poor Bobbi Kristina. I hope she’s ok, but I’m glad we haven’t heard much about her. Hopefully her family is around her at this time.

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18 Responses to “Whitney Houston’s funeral home on Enquirer photo: We didn’t take it, it’s devastating”

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  1. Lis says:

    This is awful.

    I can well believe that someone in the family did this because:

    (1) They seem despicable and

    (2) I can’t see this being worthwhile for the funeral home. Why jeopardise a long standing business to go to the NE?

  2. bea says:

    It’s very, very tacky, but I think people should not freak out about kids seeing a dead person in a coffin. Kids see far more disturbing images all the time. Seems like it could be a “teachable moment”.

    I do agree – the cell phones should have been checked at the door. Everything is photographed or videotaped by everyone these days, so we need to acknowledge that and try to prevent it in certain instances.

  3. brin says:

    Yeah, Mort’s comments were really insightful. I feel bad that the funeral home owner is being blamed.

    • beanie says:

      It was absolutely someone in the family circle who is trusted and had the opportunity to view the body the night before the funeral as most family members are to give their approval of the appearance of the body. This photo could have never been taken at the actual funeral. I hope they find out who did it and it comes back to haunt them.

  4. Buffy says:

    I amnnot sure why, but I have a feeling Bobby Brown did it. Just a gut feeling. Maybe I am totally off base, but I could see him or someone from his “enterouge” doing it. Either way it is horrible

    • skuddles says:

      I am quite certain Bobby Brown was not invited to the family viewing – and from what I can see, it appears that’s when photos were taken. As far as I’ve heard, BB and his kids were only invited to the funeral and there were many other people present at the time. I believe the pic was taken by a family member who requested a private viewing.

  5. Po says:

    Yeah, I don’t think it was the funeral home. Monetarily they would have done better if this had gone on without a hitch because they would be known in the area as the funeral home that prepared Whitney Houston funeral. I have thought from the very beginning that it was some family member who saw a way to make a quick buck. Sometimes family can be your worste enemy.

  6. Jill says:

    Whoever took the photo, I blame NE for putting it anywhere in their paper, let alone on their cover. But they have always scored a zero in the class and decency department.

  7. the original bellaluna says:

    I maintain my position that it was a family member (or someone at the private viewing), who is shameless and greedy. And of course, NE for for buying and publishing it.

    I highly doubt the funeral home/staff did this. It would be entirely too damaging to their reputation (and it’s supposed to be very good).

    An additional “huzzah!” to Morticians!

    • OriginalTiffany says:

      YES! Huzzah!!!
      Inside info is the best. We are lucky enough to have experts in many fields on this site.

  8. Petunia says:

    This is BS that the funeral home is accused. You think they’d be dumb enough to do something to harm their business AND show disrespect to Whitney and her family? I think not! What about one of the guests – like Bobby Brown?

  9. Hayley says:

    I am not understanding why this is such a terrible thing. I can see where the family might not want pictures of her in her coffin splashed on the front of a tabloid, but there is educational value here. It’s a fact that she died, it’s a fact that she was in a coffin and it’s a fact that she’s now buried in the ground. The official reason for her death has yet to be released, but if it was irresponsible behavior as has been reported, every teenager should see that photo. They need to see that even the most famous among us are not immune to the dangers of drugs and alcohol. If it can happen to Whitney Houston, it can happen to them. Her drug abuse while she was alive may have done her in, but she could save a life from the grave if even one kid is scared straight by that photo.

  10. skuddles says:

    It really bothers me that anyone would think the funeral home would be behind something like this. FH’s can’t really advertise like regular businesses – they rely on their integrity and building a reputation as a caring service provider to achieve success. It’s ALL about earning and protecting the trust of the family’s they serve. Not to mention they would lose their license in a second if it were ever proven they exploited the deceased in this fashion… not a chance.

    Incidentally, I think the family knows exactly who took the pic… Cissy, although admittedly hurt and disgusted, has chosen to let it go. That tells me she knows (or heavily suspects) who’s behind it – guaranteed if she believed it was someone from the funeral home she’d be pursuing it legally.

  11. skuddles says:

    Oh and many kudos to Ms Mort for the well deserved shout out here!

  12. k says:

    Bobby Brown..he did it.

  13. k says:

    Bobby Brown, he did it.

  14. Jacq says:

    Confiscating cell phones from her inner-most circle? Don’t you think there would have been a bigger stink over patting everyone down & taking their belongings? I mean, you’re talking about parents, aunts, uncles, children, cousins, etc. NOT the people you would think could be capable of such an atrocity, but the ONLY ones who had the chance.
    I would name Bobby suspect #1, except for the fact that he wasn’t at the viewing and was ejected from the actual service. I think that, even though he screwed her up, what happened to her or with NE wasn’t ultimately his fault. I honestly think he’s just trying to glom on for some final hints of publicity, when will anyone ever mention him again after this?

    • Sisi says:

      We have heard of celebrity weddings where all the guests had to give up their phones/camera’s, so I assume it’s common practice with private celebrity events.