Derby

Husband slept in same room as wife's body for six days

Russell and Wendy Davison on their wedding day Image copyright Paul Clark
Image caption Russell Davison was left "heartbroken" after the death of his wife Wendy

A man has revealed how he slept in the same room as his wife's body for six days after she died.

Wendy Davison, 50, died at home in Derby last month after a 10-year battle with cervical cancer.

Russell Davison, who has been left "heartbroken", said he did not want her body to go to a mortuary and he wanted to challenge attitudes towards dying.

It is legal to keep a body at home and Derbyshire Coroner's Court confirmed Mrs Davison's GP reported her death.

Mr Davison said: "Death seems to be such a taboo subject in our society, no-one seems to want to talk about it.

"I did not want her in the mortuary or handed over to a funeral director, I wanted us to take care of her ourselves at our family home, have her in our bedroom so I could sleep in the same room."

Image copyright Russell Davison
Image caption Mr Davison (centre) and Wendy with her son Dylan

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When Mrs Davison was diagnosed shortly after the couple's joint 40th birthday party in 2006, they decided to take a "natural" approach to her healthcare.

"We were not prepared to hand her life over to doctors. We wanted to do our own research and do the very best job we could to keep Wendy alive," he said.

He believes their approach, which included refusing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, extended Wendy's life "by a very long time".

'Beautiful and comforting'

In 2014, Mrs Davison was given six months to live, so the pair went travelling across Europe, where they had "the absolute time of our lives".

But last September, they were forced to return home when her pain became too bad.

She received hospice care at the Royal Derby Hospital but they were determined she would not die there.

The pair decided she would be cared for at home by family and her body would remain there until her cremation.

She died on 21 April.

Image copyright Russell Davison
Image caption Family and friends came to see Mrs Davison's body at her home

"Wendy died very peacefully, fully sedated, in no pain, in mine and Dylan's arms with our ever faithful dog Elvis snuggled up right next to her too," Mr Davison said.

He said it was a "beautiful and comforting experience" to have family and friends over to see her during that time.


The rules about keeping bodies at home

Image copyright Getty Images / Hulton Archive
  • As long as a GP has been informed and the death has been registered within five days, a body can be legally kept at home before a funeral
  • A funeral director or nurse is required to wash the body
  • If the body is being kept at home for more than a few days, a funeral director may be required to embalm the body

Source: Cancer Research UK


Contentious trusts and probate lawyer, Jak Ward, from Derby-based Smith Partnership, said it is not an offence to keep a body at home until the funeral as long as a death is reported and registered.

"Historically people would die at home and the body would be kept until the funeral," he said.

A celebration of Mrs Davison's life is being held at Derbyshire County Cricket Club on Sunday.

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