Ethical challenges in researching and telling the stories of recently deceased people
This paper explores ethical challenges encountered when conducting research about, and telling, the stories of individuals who had died before the research began. Cases were explored where individuals who lived alone had died alone at home and where their bodies had been undiscovered for an extended period. The ethical review process had not had anything significant to say about the deceased ‘participants’. As social researchers we considered whether it was ethical to involve deceased people in research when they had no opportunity to decline, and we were concerned about how to report such research. The idea that the dead can be harmed did not help our decision-making processes, but the notion of the dead having limited human rights conferred upon them was useful and aided us in clarifying how to conduct our research and disseminate our findings.