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Sister's housemate wants to bring her father's body to stay at their home for 5 days before funeral. Advice?

(491 Posts)
MumfordandDaughter Fri 03-May-13 12:58:41

Hello, sorry if this is in the wrong area.

My sister's just phoned me in bits. She works as a teacher further up North from me on one of the small islands. She shares a house with a fellow teacher/colleague.

The housemate is an only child. Her elderly father died last night and the mother has refused to have his body at their home because she wouldn't be able to cope. She also doesn't want the body to remain at the funeral parlour or go to chapel. So the mother has asked her daughter - my sister's housemate - to have him at her house instead, to which the housemate agreed.

My sister is really uncomfortable with this. Especially as it's going to be an open coffin until the day of the funeral (middle of next week). The housemate plans to hold 2-3 rosaries and the wake at their house, too.

My sister - who is really quiet and usually a 'yes' person - has told her housemate she's not happy with this arrangement, and it will make her really uncomfortable.

The housemate really didn't take this well and it ended with the mother phoning my sister and calling her selfish.

My sister doesn't know what to do. It's a really small town she lives in, with just one very expensive hotel. My parents have refused to loan her the money to stay at the hotel for the week as they feel the housemate should fork up at least half.

My sister also doesn't want to have to move, because it's so far from school/work, and there's no guarantee there'll be any rooms (it's only a 7-room place).

She doesn't know where she stands. It's not a religious difference, as they're both the same religion. it's just the thought of her father's open coffin being in their living room for all that time, and all the family visiting through the week.

My sister and housemate aren't particularly friends, but they've always been civil up until now.

Does anyone have any advice i could pass on?

(I told her to come on here herself but she refused to because she doesn't have children blush)

LadyBeagleEyes Fri 03-May-13 13:03:47

Why on earth can't she arrange for the deceased to stay at the funeral home until the actual funeral?
Surely this is normal these days, it was for both my mum and sister.

Without sounding unsympathetic, that is just not acceptable in a shared house. You can't expect a non-relative to have an open coffin in a shared living room for several days. That's just not on.

The bereaved housemate had no right agreeing to this without the other's approval. The bereaved housemate's mother has a damn nerve, grief or no grief, to refuse to have the body at her house and then ring up the other housemate and call her selfish.

Quite what you/your friend does about it, though, I really don't know.

Booyhoo Fri 03-May-13 13:05:06

i think the housemate should offer to pay for your sister to stay in the hotel if she want to bring her dad's body to her home. your sister doesn't have to agree to it but if she was willing to move out for teh week then the housemate should be grateful and pay for it. and it's not just teh body being there, there will be people in and out for the whole week, staying over to be with the body (some people dont leave teh body alone for the entire wake). your sister will feel obliged to make tea and possibly food for them. it's quite an intrusion.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 03-May-13 13:05:50

Tell your sister to stand firm. Presume they are both on the lease of the place rather than the other woman owning the property and your sister being some kind of lodger?

No fucking way would that be happening in my house, creepy as hell.

Booyhoo Fri 03-May-13 13:06:35

i agree with Voice. teh mother has a brass neck refusing to have him and then calling an unrelated (stranger to teh deceased?) person selfish for not wanting him there.

TeamEdward Fri 03-May-13 13:08:20

I presume the shared house is rented? Could the landlord intercede?
I don't think your sister is being unreasonable at all. 5 days is long time to have an open coffin in your living room. The housemate could just as easily arrange viewings and prayers etc to take place at the funeral parlour.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 03-May-13 13:08:33

Hello OP

If I am reading correctly the house is not owned by your sisters friend and they share it/rent it as part of their job.

Your sister is within her rights to refuse and her friend/mother are expecting too much. The mother doesn't want the body so why should your sister have it, she isn't even related.
Tell her to stick to her guns and refuse. Is there a landlord she could discuss this with? They might not be happy with it either.
If this is what they want to do they can't expect your sister to accommodate this. The mother should have the father at home.

I think the mother is a bit off saying she won't have the body at her own house, won't have him at the funeral parlour, but her daughters housemate is somehow being "selfish" by not wanting an open coffin in her living room for several days!

I know she is grieving and perhaps not seeing things very straight, but that is unfair.

The body should either stay at the parents house, or the funeral parlour. Nobody outside the immediate family should have to cope with having a deceased person in their house for that period.

If the daughter is really distraught at the idea of him being "with strangers" then she (or the mother) should pay for the hotel for your daughter.

tribpot Fri 03-May-13 13:12:03

Bloody hell - that is beyond taking the piss.

The housemate needs to move back to her mother's house and help her cope with the very sad business of being the surviving spouse. That's holding the wake, having the visits from family and all the rest. My MIL is going through this right now, and I get that it's tough, but the housemate CANNOT expect your sister to deal with an open coffin in her own house for 5 days.

MumfordandDaughter Fri 03-May-13 13:12:46

Thanks everyone.

Yes, it's a private rented house and they both share, although my sister moved in a few months before she did. But their names are both on the contract.

My sister's already said no. But she doesn't know what she can physically do. She said no. Housemate (and her mother) said 'tough luck' more or less. The housemate said because of ferry times, it's likely they'll just get a few visitors this weekend, and then the rest won't be visiting until the actual funeral. It'll mainly be neighbours popping in and attending the roasries. And that my sister has a tv in her bedroom, so there's no need to be in the living room anyway if she doesn't want to.

My sister's waiting on a the letting agency to get back to her with the landlord's decision. But she isn't hopeful. Landlord normally takes several days to reply to queries and the body is due to be at their home by the end of today/early tomorrow.

Weegiemum Fri 03-May-13 13:14:30

From your post I'm kind of assuming you are in the Hebrides somewhere?

We lived there for over 10 years (still go up 3x a year we still have a house there) and open coffins at home are pretty much the way it goes.

If you're not happy (and I wouldn't be!) then I think your sisters housemate needs to fork for the hotel if she insists.

But if she does just refuse, what are you going to do? It's a hard one.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:15:45

I am going against the grain and saying that since this woman's Father has died, it is churlish and rather silly to get all squealy about a dead body in the house.

he's dead...he won't harm anyone. She can avoid the room for the period. It's not a disaster if she has to do that surely? but the death of a parent IS a disaster.

Booyhoo Fri 03-May-13 13:15:59

so they are just going ahead without your sister's agreement! shock

i'm not sure what your sister can do but i really hope she can do something to prevent this! that is awful!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:17:08

Can I ask what people are so afraid of? Genuinely want to know.

Booyhoo Fri 03-May-13 13:17:29

neo if it's such little inconvenience then the mother can do it in the man's own home!

I'd be surprised if the landlord would be happy to have a dead body in their living room for 5 days and have assorted people tramping through, so I'd press the letting agent to get in urgent contact with the landlord.

I'd be calling Citizen's Advice Bureau on this or a friend who works in the legal profession if you have one. Personally, there is no way I would accept this fait accompli and I wonder if, legally, your sister has every right to deny access.

Even if she hasn't, if it were me, I'd be getting other friends round there and preventing the body from being taken into the house. Don't care how upset it makes the family, they are totally out of order and in the wrong.

no way would this happen in our house. family or no family... totally gives me the heebie jeebies confused

the mother is being hypocrytical (sp?). her home or funeral home are the only options. she cant just expect a total stranger to put up with a dead body in an open coffin... for a whole week too!

Neo - would you want people traipsing into your house for 5 days whom you don't know? It's not about being squeamish, it's simply unacceptable foisting this situation on someone who is not related and is simply sharing a house. Why should someone paying rent basically have her use of the house curtailed for a week? Hell no.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:21:44

BooyHoo the woman has lost her DH! She's probably traumatized...you're allowed to be unreasonable in that event!

Booyhoo Fri 03-May-13 13:22:58

again i'm with VOU. a death doesn't trump everyone else's right to a say in what happens in their own home. i'd have friends/family round too and refuse access.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:23:20

I still think it's unreasonable. A woman has lost her Husband...another has lost her Father. Sharing a house means more than sharing rent. It means being a small community. People are so selfish and silly it shocks me!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:24:05

I think it's disgusting. I wouldn;t care about people coming to pay their respects...it's 5 days not forever!

SnapesOnAPlane Fri 03-May-13 13:24:29

Does it matter what people are afraid of, Neo?
It's a dead body. I wouldn't want one in my house either, friend/housemates father or not.
It's not churlish or silly, it's a human reaction to a dead body.

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