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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)

PearlyWhites Fri 03-May-13 13:25:15

I think your sister should show some sensitivity and respect.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:25:32

Yes it matters Snapes. It matters because people think so little of a family in grief.

rubyflipper Fri 03-May-13 13:25:32

I would say OK. BUT on the proviso that the corpse says in flatmate's room.

MumfordandDaughter Fri 03-May-13 13:25:49

Thanks everyone. I'v just text her to get back on the phone to the letting agency to tell the Landlord this is urgent. My dad's telling her to tell the agency that she'll be witholding her rent until this is sorted and refusing to pay rent at all for this week if the coffin gets to stay. But there's no way my sister will say any of that.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:26:19

Ruby that would be a good compromise. That way, shared space is not being used. The flatmate could sleep in the sitting room.

Fine - send the body down to Neo. Problem solved.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:27:02

The agency won't take kindly to rent witholding.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 03-May-13 13:27:36

Well Voice, if it were my flatmate then no there wouldn't be a problem.

DistanceCall Fri 03-May-13 13:28:04

Neo, it makes no sense. She's so traumatised that she can't have the corpse in her own home but can't leave it in the funeral parlour because it's be among strangers? Fine. Then someone less traumatised in the family should cough up for the OP's sister's hotel. It's only decent.

And I would be very uncomfortable with a dead body in my living room and loads of people coming over for the rosary. I presume you have never listened to groups of people praying the rosary, or been in a wake. It's fairly sinister. And FOR FIVE DAYS. It's unacceptable.

Wylye Fri 03-May-13 13:28:47

Neo - apart from the fact that the OPs sister might be very uncomfortable with a dead body being in her house for nearly a week (which I think is plenty of reason to object), the housemate is enforcing a week of mourning onto the sister - she doesn't know the deceased, but will hardly be living life as normal unless she decides to be massively insensitive. No music playing, no hanging out in the kitchen/dining rm to eat meals, no having friends over, she'll be confined to her room.
It's not fair on a shared household, and the other tenant is being v odd to insist.

AmberLeaf Fri 03-May-13 13:28:51

The deceased Dad should be taken back to his own home, the flatmate should go and stay with her Mother to support her in coping with it all.

DistanceCall Fri 03-May-13 13:29:11

^ if it were my flatmate then no there wouldn't be a problem.^

"I don't have a problem with it, then it shouldn't be a problem for anyone". Nice reasoning, Neo. You do realise that the universe doesn't revolve around your navel, don't you?

Amber - absolutely. That's the normal and reasonable thing to do.

AmberLeaf Fri 03-May-13 13:31:33

Even if the Dad was going to stay at the funeral home, I think that the flatmate should be with her Mum anyway.

That is what I would do in that situation anyway.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 03-May-13 13:32:41

I don't think its disgusting, as Neo, but I do believe its a cultural clash.

If it is the cultural norm for family to have an open coffin at home in the community in which your sis lives, then the cultural norm would take precident for me.

Your sis is dealing with people who are in a heightened emotional state and has the option to go elsewhere for what is an exceptional probably one off circumstance.

It is sad that the mum doesn't feel she can have the dad at home.

For some people, this is a very important part of the grieving and burial period. I don't think that morally your sis has the right to take this away from the family, even if legally she/ the landlord can.

Does she know other people she could ask to campout with for a week, considering the circumstances, or is the hotel really the only option?

FannyFifer Fri 03-May-13 13:34:09

This is just not acceptable at all in a shared house.
I am not squeamish at all about dead bodies, but you really can't inflict a dead dad lying in state in the sitting room of a shared rental house on someone.

whattodoo Fri 03-May-13 13:34:19

I presume your sis has pointed out the impracticalities - can't hang her knickers on the living room radiators. Won't be able to pop into the kitchen to make a snack while visitors are there. Won't be able to chat on the phone. Won't be able to play music or watch TV at a sensible volume.

I'm sure your sis is sympathetic and would happily keep the noise and fun levels to a minimum while her housemate is newly bereaved. But to expect her to accept this arrangement is beyond unreasonable.

I can only think she'll have to appeal to her house mate's better nature, however.

Booyhoo Fri 03-May-13 13:36:53

there are faciities available for bereaved families who dont feel able to have their deceased at home for the wake. they are called funeral homes. (although i suspect there might be a charge? i wonder if that is a factor in the woman's determination not to use one?)

tribpot Fri 03-May-13 13:36:55

I don't think withholding rent is going to help gee the landlord up, except to make it more likely he/she will vote in favour of the housemate out of pique. It's not his/her fault, after all.

Frankly this isn't much different to having an alive person stay in the living room for five days, hosting a party and guests at will.

travellingwilbury Fri 03-May-13 13:37:26

Would this even be allowed for so long ?

I really don't want to be grim but there is a very good reason that a body is kept in a fridge .

EffieTheDuck Fri 03-May-13 13:37:47

Could the body rest at the local church?

I would be concerned with health issues keeping a body in a presumably heated flat for 5 days.

embolina Fri 03-May-13 13:38:02

Oh my GOD. I can't believe your sister is being made to feel that SHE'S the unreasonable one in this. A father passing away is a horrible, terrible loss- but even so- this is ridiculous.

A dead body. In the house. In an open casket. For five DAYS.

HORRIBLE.

Plan of action for your sister:
- WITHHOLD HALF THE RENT UNLESS AT LEAST HALF OF A STAY IN A HOTEL IS PAID FOR.
- KEEP RINGING AND RINGING THE LANDLORD AS A MATTER OF URGENCY.
- RING THE CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU ASAP.

Other than that, there's not a lot you can do. Quite frankly, if she goes ahead with this, I would start looking for somewhere else to live. (That's what I would personally do anyway. I simply couldn't live with someone who forced something like that upon me.)

SirChenjin Fri 03-May-13 13:38:06

I lost my mum last year, and was absolutely and completely devastated. However, even in the midst of my grief I still managed to consider others. Had she died when I was at the house-sharing stage there is no way on earth I would have insisted on having her body in an open coffin in the living room whilst expecting my flatmates to put up and shut up for 5 days - utterly bonkers.

If you DS doesn't want the body in the house then her flatmate should do the decent thing and pay for her to stay elsewhere, or as others have said, move back with her mother where they can be together and say their last goodbyes.

CarpeVinum Fri 03-May-13 13:39:02

This is normal here, but they do funerals quick so it would be one or two nights at the most.

I washed and dressed FIL hours after his death. I would have done the same for MIL had she not died in hospital.

We were with FIL in the house from his desth to the funeral, he was laid put on the bed and many people came to say goodbye.

I would not want to be in your sister's postion. Being in constant contact with a relentless reminder of one's own mortality, a fairly normal Northern European discomfort of being around dead bodies and the lack of respite from being wittness to fresh grief...well it is a huge ask. And personally having been there, done that, bought the T shirt, I'd not be welcoming this with open arms. But I also wouldn't want to upset somebody in the midst of grief, so I would be looking to hole up elsewhere and damn the cost.

Have to say I find it odd the transporting of the gentlemen somewhere other than his own home. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but people here are either at home till the funeral, or in an offical place of rest in the interim. Here the point of a family based place of pre funeral rest is that the deceased gets to be at home, with their family, and their loved ones say goodbye to them in their own surroundings.

NatashaBee Fri 03-May-13 13:39:23

I'm not at all squeamish, but this wouldn't be acceptable to me either.

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