Family lives 4 years with dead brother

The northern province of Friesland is considered to be on the outer fringes of the Netherlands, with its own language, cows, and … weirdness. Proof of just how weird was the following news story from last night:

In the village of Minnertsga, the body of a man who died four years ago has been found lying on his bed at home. His remains were discovered by his family. His brothers (61 and 67) and two sisters (44 and 71) live in the same house.

They last spoke to their 50-year-old brother at the beginning of 2006, when he told them that he was going to his room and did not want to be disturbed. According to local people, the family is known to be very religious and never joined any social events in the village. “No one managed to make contact with them,” said a local official. “They refused to go to the doctor because they believed that the Lord would heal them.”

This week the local housing authority contacted the family about some maintenance work that was needed in the terraced house. One of the residents then entered the bedroom where the dead body was found. A doctor was called, who in turn alerted the police. The man is presumed to have died of natural causes.

Reactions among the Dutch were surprise (What about the smell?!), amusement (Only in Friesland!) and cynicism (They were just happy to keep getting his dole money).

I wonder how the story will be perceived abroad.