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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)

VoiceofUnreason Fri 03-May-13 14:09:27


flowery Fri 03-May-13 14:13:04

Yes call funeral directors to advise them that they do not have permission to bring body to that address and will be denied entry, and they should contact the widow to make arrangements to either take the body to her own address, to an alternative address or to keep it there.

ClaraOswald Fri 03-May-13 14:17:37

The whole point of having the body at home is that it is their own home.
The mother of the house mate has been really cheeky.

lottiegarbanzo Fri 03-May-13 14:17:43

Yes, Lisaro, spot on, do that.

Do not threaten to withhold rent, that is a breach of contract and will annoy the LL enormously.

This isn't my cultural norm but I understand it must be very important to people. But... His house is surely the norm, or the funeral home. The Mum can choose not to have him home but cannot just send him elsewhere - somewhere that neither she nor the daughter owns or has sole control over. Grief does not trump all consideration of others.

lottiegarbanzo Fri 03-May-13 14:25:22

Also, check through their letting contract and see what there is about having access to shared spaces, not restricting other tenants's use and behaving reasonably. Those would be the point of contacting the landlord.

NicknameTaken Fri 03-May-13 14:27:18

Could she swap, so flatmates's mother comes to stay with her daughter (and her H's body) and your sister goes to stay alone in their house? Might be able to present it to flatmate as win/win?

NicknameTaken Fri 03-May-13 14:28:10

"their house" means flatmate's mother's house, in case that's not clear.

TerrysAllGold Fri 03-May-13 14:30:24

I don't know how it works with joint tenants but, Mumford, your sister should almost certainly be able to use the civil law of trespass to prevent this from happening.

Anyone, from the postman or the paperboy to funeral director or family only have presumed right of access onto someone's property - and that includes their drive, garden or front path. The leaseholder or owner of the property can refuse them entry into or onto the grounds by merely telling them that they have withdrawn that presumed right of access. If the person who's been forbidden entry encroaches into the property or onto its grounds they're guilty of the civil offence of trespass and if they make a fuss about it which involves any unpleasantness could be guilty of criminal acts of disorder too.

So as far as logic suggests to me your sister is quite within her rights to contact the funeral home and state that as leaseholder to the property she is withdrawing any tacit or implied right they might have to bring the body onto the premises. She can add that any attempt to do so will be met with a writ and any resultant public disorder (from the flatmate) will cause her to call the police immediately.

How that squares with the other tenant's right to allow a particular visitor, complete with dead body, I don't know to be honest but I'd imagine that the funeral parlour will be too concerned with the prospect of a writ, a bad reputation and an almighty great undignified fuss to argue too much.

This is something you or your family could do on your sister's behalf if she's the shy, don't want to make a fuss type.

zipzap Fri 03-May-13 14:35:19

Was reading through this and definitely think that she should ring the funeral home immediately. Also - do you know where the funeral is to be held - she needs to talk to the vicar/rector/priest and get them to help too.

And absolutely - if she is not happy about it, then why should she let a dead body stay in the living room for 5 days, that's a long time. Would freak me out for 5 minutes, let alone 5 days!

If the mother is not prepared to have him there, as is a cultural tradition, then there is no way that she should expect anybody else to have him, particularly if it involves unrelated people. I know she is grieving and not thinking right, but she really doesn't have a right to insist this.

Is there anybody else that she could talk to about this - would a local community police officer be able to come and say no, body not coming in here? <clutching at straws>

Is your sis going to be able to be around when the body is delivered - because there's going to be a horrible chance that if she isn't, even if she has protested, if the housemate or mother ring the funeral home back and say that they have talked her around, then she might get home and discover the body there anyway.

Sounds like your sister is a nice respectful person and given the circumstances I hesitate to suggest this - but if they are still insisting the body is coming, could she threaten say that, whilst she respects that housemate is in mourning and that others will be coming to pay their respects, don't expect her to be - she will want to play music and have the tv on in the lounge, hang her washing up, carry on life as normal and if that upsets the mourners, then tough, as they could have had the body at his own home and they didn't care about her horror at the idea of having a body in the front room so why should she care about them. I agree that actually being able to go through with this when the time comes will be incredibly difficult, might work as a desperate threat beforehand. And doesn't make your sis look so great either so really is a last resort.

Plus I think that I would expect the housemate or housemate's mother to cough up for the full amount for staying in the hotel - it's not a normal request to make of a housemate, it's certainly something that most people are likely to have definite feelings about and those should be respected too.

Good luck to her...

EffieTheDuck Fri 03-May-13 14:40:24

I feel desperate for your sister OP. Would the hotel take the body especially if they were prepared to cater for the wake?

If it is the island I am thinking of, perhaps a word with the nuns?

StoicButStressed Fri 03-May-13 14:41:06

I do know that NONE of this truly awful & rock/hard place situation is funny. I PROMISE I know that - just as I promise I know the pain of losing a parent as my Mumma died only 10 weeks agosad

But - with genuine & HUGE apologies to anyone who may be offended by this - I want to kiss VoiceOfR right now as she just made me laugh out loud...blush < In my defence, it's been a very very VERY shit week here so frankly grateful to anything that lifts it a bitsmile >

Was THIS: grin

VoiceofUnreason Fri 03-May-13 13:54:44
Can you imagine the sort of responses this thread would be getting in AIBU???

Sweet Jesus, think THAT thread would have already hit the 1000 and probably instantly moved into Classics and there would be an entire posse of Scottish women offering to hijack Naval SWAT boats to get to Island to then ring-fence & blockade the house from baffled/terrifed funeral directors...

NoSquirrels Fri 03-May-13 14:45:32

Yes, cultural norms about laying out at home all OK. But as said by others, your sister's house was not the deceased's home.

Call funeral directors and advise of situation. Call rector/priest/minister and advise of situation.

Suggest flatmate goes to stay with mum to support the laying out at home.

Suggest flatmate goes to mother's house to support the laying out at home whilst her mother goes to stay with other relatives/friends who can support her if her mother will not be in the same house as the body.

Suggest that body remains with funeral directors.

Tell flatmate that if none of the above are suitable she/her family need to pay for or arrange alternative accommodation for your sister.

Don't let your sister think anyone is being reasonable to suggest she has somebody else's dead father in her living room for the best part of a week.

There are many ways for her to be supportive to her flatmate in her grief, but it's not reasonable for this to be asked of her.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Fri 03-May-13 14:46:17

I have to admit I smiled in a wry but sympathetic way too when I read that. blush

TerrysAllGold Fri 03-May-13 14:46:33

StoicButStressed, if I were anywhere near Scotland I'd be one of those women. I feel very cross and upset for the OP's sister.

And moreover, I'm very sorry for your loss.

cozietoesie Fri 03-May-13 14:47:07


Get your sister to phone and talk to the priest. If anyone can intercede as a matter of urgency it will be him.

Startail Fri 03-May-13 14:51:07

Dead body I could, having seen FILs I could probably just about manage.

Visitors traipsing in and out would get on my nerves.

SacreBlue Fri 03-May-13 14:52:40

I think OOH it is perfectly normal for many people to have a body home - I personally can't imagine not, but OTOH it is usually home the ancestral or where the person was living before they died.

I feel very sorry for the family of the deceased but either the body should go home to the mum's or the family should pay for the OP's entire stay at a hotel (tho this would definitely be the less preferred option) after all most funeral parlour would charge for the body to be kept there so the family would be paying if the mum really couldn't cope and there wasn't a second option.

StealthOfficialCrispTester Fri 03-May-13 14:58:14

I'm no expert but I think it would be a very bad idea for your sister to withhold her rent over this

CrowsLanding Fri 03-May-13 14:58:23

I can't quite believe what I'm reading. Your poor sis!
I agree with others who have suggested calling the funeral home or the vicar/priest. This really needs sorting out ASAP.

onedev Fri 03-May-13 14:58:42

I'm from NI so it's perfectly normal to have the body at home but completely agree with Flogging & Voice - the body is back at their own home, not somewhere they never lived. This isn't on at all.

Plus, our funerals are always held within a day or 2, so it's ok to keep the heating off to keep the house cold for a couple of days but how would you manage that for 5 days?? That body will smell!

I also vote for phoning the funeral home & telling them that under no circumstances are they to bring the body to that address as permission is not given for the body to be there.
Hope your sister is ok as this is a horrible situation for her to have been put in. The flatmate really should have returned to her family home to stay with her mum & the body on rest there.

CrowsLanding Fri 03-May-13 14:59:04

Oh and tell your sis not to withhold rent, it is a very bad idea.

fuzzpig Fri 03-May-13 15:02:40

Omg. The idea of sharing a house with a corpse for 5 days. I just couldn't. Very unfair of them to foist this situation on your sister sad

cozietoesie Fri 03-May-13 15:04:11

She shouldn't of course - because it can't come to that if she's to continue living there in harmony. Priests in that neck of the woods are half religious and half politician/fixer - they have to be - so they would be the one to sort things out. The flatmate's mother would likely listen to a priest where they wouldn't listen to someone else and the undertaker who is bringing the body will also take directions from them where they probably wouldn't from a 'civilian'.

lottiegarbanzo Fri 03-May-13 15:06:46

Also, what is it the mother can't cope with? Body, or visitors? The latter makes sense. So, the flatmate should go home and help host. If your sister wants to offer an olive branch and some practical sympathy, she could offer a bit of help with domestic tasks, or some aspect of funeral preparations.

Hullygully Fri 03-May-13 15:08:51


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