Heartbroken widower slept next to wife's body for six days

Russell Davison, 50, was devastated when his wife Wendy died.
Russell Davison, 50, was devastated when his wife Wendy died.

A heartbroken widower slept next to his wife's dead body for six days because he didn't want her body to be taken to a mortuary.

Russell Davison, 50, was devastated when his wife Wendy, died three years after being given six months to live by doctors.

She was diagnosed with cervical cancer not long after the couple's joint 40th birthday party in November 2006.

Wendy was determined to die at home, and after she passed away last month, Russell didn't want her body to be taken into a hospital mortuary.

Wendy was diagnosed with cervical cancer not long after the couple's joint 40th birthday party in November 2006. They are pictured with their son Dominic.
Wendy was diagnosed with cervical cancer not long after the couple's joint 40th birthday party in November 2006. They are pictured with their son Dominic.

After sleeping next to his wife in their bedroom at their Derby home, Russell wants to convince others that staying close to a loved one's dead body is nothing to be afraid of.

Russell, who ran a property company with his wife, said: "Wendy died very peacefully, fully sedated, in no pain in mine and Dylan's arms with our ever-faithful dog Elvis smuggled up right next to her, too.

"Death seems to be such a taboo subject in our society, no one seems to want to talk about it. For a long time I have been determined to have Wendy at home when she died. 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.

"Having Wendy's body here and being able to sit with her all day, have her friends and family come to sit with her, chat with her, chat about her and light candles and incense on her altar proved to be such a beautiful and comforting experience for me, the boys and all that are taking part."

Wendy on a skateboard with the family dog, Elvis.
Wendy on a skateboard with the family dog, Elvis.

When she was given six months to live, the couple decided to start "living in the now" and bought a caravan in which they travelled around Europe. Their travels came to an end last September when they had to return home due to Wendy's pain being too much to bear.

She had been in and out of the Macmillan Ward at the Royal Derby Hospital, but remained determined to die at home.

Along with Russell, Wendy was nursed at home by her two sons, Luke and Dylan Nichols, and Russell's children, Benjamin and Dominic Davison.

Russell added: "We have all been fooled by TV and films into thinking there is something to be scared about with dead bodies, there is not, I can assure you."

The family held a service to celebrate Wendy's life and Russell went on to write a heart-breaking letter shortly after his wife's passing and said:

"My heart is broken, I don't know if it will ever heal and I don't know if I even want it to. I am crying a lot less now though and am sure I will be okay in time.

"Travel well to your next life my darling Wendy, you will never be forgotten and you will always be loved so very much by me, your boys and so many other people."

"You have shown us exactly how to live and exactly how to die with grace, honour, love and beauty and I am so incredibly grateful to you for everything that you are and have been to me."

"I adore you."

Russell Davison wants to convince others that staying close to a loved one's dead body is nothing to be afraid.
Russell Davison wants to convince others that staying close to a loved one's dead body is nothing to be afraid.

Davison has urged others to follow his example as he believes it helps with the grief but also meant it was cheaper than a normal funeral. Wendy was kept in what the family called a cocoon, as they didn't like to use the word coffin, saving on undertaker costs.

Russell said: "Legally you don't have to keep a body in a morgue and we didn't have to do anything specific to preserve Wendy's body.

"After six days we moved Wendy from the house to the crematorium in our car and we had to inform the police that we were moving the body. The police didn't really know what to say and the receptionist said she would log it anyway.

"Wendy was involved in all of the planning beforehand and came to a meeting we had to make all the arrangements. It was definitely the right thing for us and the family."

Shortly after her death Russell posted on Facebook: "On a practical note Wendy has not leaked or started to smell at all, she has started to change in appearance as her body starts to relax into its next stage but she still looks beautiful and we are five days in now.

Wendy Davison died at home and stayed with her loved ones before being cremated. Photo/Facebook
Wendy Davison died at home and stayed with her loved ones before being cremated. Photo/Facebook

"Without exception everybody who has spent time with us and Wendy has said how right it has felt and how this should be the way we treat our dead, not sending them off to the funeral director as is pretty much always the custom now that we have allowed them to take over.

"It certainly did not used to be that way for our parents' generation.

"The comfort me and boys had from being with family and friends at Wendy's dead body's side has been huge; I would describe the process as like an emotional decompression chamber, allowing us to start to come to terms with our loss while Wendy is still with us.

"The idea of her being taken away in a plastic body bag hours after death is so alien to us all now we really don't think we could have taken it."

- Daily Mail

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