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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)

flowery Fri 03-May-13 13:39:24

"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."

How would she be taking it away from them? confused The body could go to the mother's home but she has decided she doesn't want that. That's not the OP's sister's fault!

No way would I stay in a house with a corpse in the living room for 5 days.

I agree with pp, the body and the flatmate should go to the mothers house.

BobblyGussets Fri 03-May-13 13:41:43

The body will start to smell after the first few days. Embalming doesn't do miracles.

Just no. It's all too intrusive. It the risk of sounding really lacking in compassion, I would be warning the housemate and the mother, that you will be locking the door, so it really is a "no".

Floggingmolly Fri 03-May-13 13:44:22

Well, I'm Irish, and that would be perfectly normal there; but not under any circumstances in someone else's house!
Hs wife "couldn't cope"; so that should have been the end of it. Funeral home it is.
Even asking the daughter to do it in her own home would be extremely strange.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Fri 03-May-13 13:45:01

I wouldn't like it either. I am not spiritual, I don't think it's creepy I just wouldn't like it at all.

I would feel extremely strongly about this.

Perhaps you could suggest your flat mate moves in with her mother while her husbands body is there? Another, possibility would be for you flat antes mum to stay with you while your flat ate stays with the body in her parents house.

travellingwilbury Fri 03-May-13 13:45:52

And she won't be able to have any heating on for this days as well . Can he not be at the local church ? Or even just to come to the house the night before . That would be a lot more acceptable to me

zzzzz Fri 03-May-13 13:47:11

I would be able to deal with this and support the family by allowing the df to be laid out in the sitting room. I wouldn't enjoy it, an it would inconvenience me, but that wouldn't trump their needs.

Births and deaths are much more important than people think. I think this is a huge ask on the part of the flat mate, but should be accomodated.

Floggin - my grandfather on one side was Irish and I have lots of Irish relatives so I, too, know that sometimes bodies go "home". But they go "home" to their own house. If they don't go "home" then they go to a funeral home or chapel.

Floggingmolly Fri 03-May-13 13:48:29

Yes, that's the point I was making, Voice

LessMissAbs Fri 03-May-13 13:49:22

Totally unacceptable in a houseshare. Why the mother couldn't cope with the body of her dead husband in her own home but could with it being in a house shared with an unrelated family member, miles from her, I do not know. She is being ridiculous. Its her husband, and like it or not, she should be stepping up to the mark and not placing the full burden on her daughter (and her housemate).

Floggin meant to say "I'm with you" before I hit send.

If this person I shared the house with was my bestest friend in the whole world whom I'd known for years and years and she had no other family, I might just about find a way to think this was acceptable. But this housemate is a work colleague and the OP has made it clear they are "civil" and not really friends.

ChasedByBees Fri 03-May-13 13:51:20

I would develop an immediate fondness for thrash metal.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 03-May-13 13:51:31

flowery obviously ideally the dad would go to the mums house but for what ever reason, the no doubt not rationally thinking mum feels that can't happen. If the Ops sis blocks it at her house, which i'd anticipate legally she could, then the body stays at the funeral parlour the mum and daughter may feel long term guilt/ complex emotions that the open coffin bit didn't happen.

I'm a bit of a pushover probably but considering a very close family member has died I'd move out for the five days.

As others have posted it would be better if daughter could stay with mum and have the dads open coffin at the mums house.

StoicButStressed Fri 03-May-13 13:52:12

Oh dear. Whole si'tn is nightmare of epic proportions.

I don't think your DS should take long-term umbrage at anything either housemate or her DM did/said last night. Know from own (recent, so recall it very well) experience that parent dying is an instantly tramatising event, so nothing will be rational, and anything/anyone who 'seems' - to them - to be 'making it harder' will, whether fair or beyond unfair (& calling your DS 'selfish' is pretty OOO) WILL right now/in midst of their loss and grief seem like THEY are the one being the selfish f*cker right now. Harsh and wrong, but true.sad

That said, no - I don't think it's REMOTELY ok to simply expect the deceased to be in your sisters home. I understand the cultural reasons (Irish hard core Catholic GPs and they did same), but it's beyond not ok. If the DM will struggle to have the DF at home but wants to avoid him being elsewhere (which again understand), then options are simply:

Either her DD goes back home to stay with her and help her cope; OR they faciliate - IE THEY pay for, as it is THEM wanting the 'resource/venue' of your DS's home - your DS being at the hotel (am assuming she would agree even if not v keen on idea/journey, given others HAVE just had hidious bereavment); OR if they can't cope with idea him at DM's house but aren't prepared to find a way round that, they will have no option but for him to be at funeral home etc.

And your DS, although I get that this will be VERY hard under these circumstances, will need to be much more assertive and clear whilst also obviously being clear she is "Sorry your troubles" as my Irish relees used to say as they drank copious whisky paid their respects. Ditto with Landlord, chase them wither directly or via agent and say will be moving out immed if he/she does not intervene NOW. My guess is finding instant tenants in Outer Hebs/ is not exactly as easy as it is in Clapham so force them into paying attention via threat to their pocket.

mrspaddy Fri 03-May-13 13:53:45

I don't think this is fair or reasonable at all. I am well used to open coffins and wakes but the amount of visitors, prayer and intrusion on an non relative is not acceptable. They are trying to make your sister feel bad even though it is the mother who is being so selfish. Has your sister any friends she could stay with.. she shouldn't have to though.

Who the hell does the mother think she is.. I think she sounds a bit bullyish and putting pressure on her daughter too. Met these types before.

HullMum Fri 03-May-13 13:53:46

her house mates mother is being selfish! angry flatmate should stay with mother with mother If she can't do it alone

Can you imagine the sort of responses this thread would be getting in AIBU???

BackforGood Fri 03-May-13 13:55:21

That is beyond unreasonable.
The widow either has her late husband's body in their home - if she is of the belief the body should be in a home. Or she should leave it in the funeral parlour / whatever the usual arrangements are on the island if they don't have a funeral parlour if she feels there is something unnerving in having the body in her front room.
It's just unbelievable that she thinks it's acceptable to not have an open coffin in her own (and the deceased's) home, but that some unrelated person should be expected to deal with it ! shock

Miggsie Fri 03-May-13 13:56:42

I've lived in a community where bodies were laid out in the front parlour and people visited but it was ALWAYS the house the person lived in - and he relatives were htere to recieve visitors.

I think everyone would have been stunned if it was suggested the deceased was displayed anywhere but theri own ome. Will the mohter move into the house whle everyone visits?
The pint of a laying out like this is for relatives to offer condolences to the family but the widow seems to be ducking out of it - that's the really strange bit - mother seems to be forcing hte daughter to be chief mourner and recipient of sympathy and visits - what will mum do during these 5day. If I visited the deceased to pay my respects I'd be a bit surprised if the widow (or widower) had absented themselves.

If the body was in a funeral home thn fine - you are just going to make your own peace.

No matter what grief you feel, you go through the socal niceties, I made tea for 200 people at my mother's funeral wake - and people offered sympathy to the bereaved. That's the way it is - sot of doing a lying in but not really is strange.

Oh and saying a stranger should accomodate a corpse in her living room is really rude.

HullMum Fri 03-May-13 13:58:53

she should call funeral home and insist they not bring him

ChasedByBees Fri 03-May-13 13:58:56

The problem is its nothing to do with the letting agency so the landlord will not be able to help and withholding rent wil be considered separately for this situation.

The only way to deal with this as far as I can see would be to persuade your sisters housemate this is not going to happen. That can either be done by appealing to her reasonable side (which has failed) or by your sister acting equally unreasonably so that the mourning wasn't feasible in that space (i.e loud music etc). I migh threaten to make the space unsuitable for mourning bit I probably wouldn't follow through.

So I don't see that there's much your sister can do. sad

ExcuseTypos Fri 03-May-13 14:00:36

I wouldn't mind this for a couple of days, if I was flat sharing. 5 days is ridiculous.

I agree with whoever said the body should go to his own home and his daughter should go and support her mum.

Te mum is saying she doesn't want the body of her husband in their house, but it's ok for a stranger to have to have the body in thier flat. Very unreasonable.

lisaro Fri 03-May-13 14:01:01

Get your Dad to ring the funeral directors and make it plain this is against the wishes of the person living there and paying half the rent. Tell them they WILL be denied access, as the private home is nothing to do with the deceased. I'm sure they will see reason.

Charlesroi Fri 03-May-13 14:03:22

she should call funeral home and insist they not bring him

This. I'm sure they could find a way around it.

BackforGood Fri 03-May-13 14:08:12

I think that's a good idea about calling the Funeral directors and saying that it has not been agreed that the body can lie in the home of your sister, and that they need to resolve it with the widow, as your sister will not be letting it into her home, and you thought they would rather know in advance than have a scene when they turned up.

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