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10 People Who Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye

by Robert Grimminck
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things anyone ever has to do. No one wants to do it, but it’s a necessary part of life, especially when someone dies. You have no choice but to say goodbye—unless you are one of the people on this list. They are people who simply cannot let go of the ones they loved. These are people who had someone special in their life die of natural causes and couldn’t move on. All of them went to extreme measures in order to keep those loved ones in their life.

10 Howard Lewis

Howard Lewis of Pontypridd, South Wales had been married to his wife, Elizabeth, for 34 years. For the last five years of her life, Howard took care of Elizabeth, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. One Saturday morning in 2005, Howard woke up to his wife breathing strangely before she finally went still. He was going to call an ambulance, but instead, he went out to buy a newspaper and pretended nothing happened.

Lewis continued pretending nothing happened for five months. Every night, he would go to the room, touch her face, and say goodnight. In order to mask the smell of decomposition, he kept the house cold and kept air fresheners scattered throughout the house.

When friends and neighbors asked how Elizabeth was doing, he would say she was doing fine, but people became suspicious when they hadn’t seen her in months and contacted the police. Upon entering the house, the police immediately identified the smell and Howard led them to the body, where he admitted she had died five months ago. He was arrested but not prosecuted, mostly because the court felt bad for him.

9 Jean Stevens

Jean Stevens from Pennsylvania married her husband, James, in 1942. They had a happy life together until James succumbed to Parkinson’s disease in 1999. He was buried in a local cemetery . . . for a few days. That’s when Jean went the cemetery and dug up her late husband. She brought him home and placed him on the couch in a detached garage.

This would become a habit for Jean. As if losing her husband of almost 60 years wasn’t bad enough, she also had a twin sister who was terminally ill. Jean and June were so close that June even married James’s brother. The twins lived 320 kilometers (200 mi) apart, but they kept in touch, calling each other and writing often. Sadly, on October 6, 2010, June died from cancer. Jean took it upon herself to bury her twin sister in the backyard, but after some consideration, she decided June would be better on the couch in the spare room of her house.

James was dressed in the suit he was buried in, while June was dressed in her best housecoat. In order to cover up the odor of decay, Jean regularly sprayed her sister with perfume.

The police discovered the situation when they received an anonymous phone call that she was housing the dead bodies. When asked why she did it, Jean admitted she didn’t deal with death well. She thought it was terribly sad that when someone dies, it is the end and there is probably nothing after that. By keeping them around, she denied their deaths, in a way.

8 Chan Yung Tong

Chan Yung Tong met his wife, Katima Amy Ismail, at the Hong Kong shipping company where they both worked. They did not socialize much until Chan was reading the newspaper one day and spoke aloud, mentioning that he wanted to see a movie that was playing in the theater. Katima said she wanted to see the movie as well, so they went together. From there, the relationship bloomed slowly. They didn’t hold hands until months later, when the roads were slippery and Katima slid her arm inside of Chan’s. They married in 1959.

The couple never had children because of complications from a surgery. Instead, they traveled the world before moving from Hong Kong to Victoria, British Columbia in 1986. Sadly, in 2001, Katima passed away in the Royal Jubilee Hospital while Chan held her hand.

Chan never got over losing the love of his life. He’s visited his wife’s grave site every single day since her death. He takes the bus and then walks half an hour to the graveyard. He’s 81 years old and walks with a cane, which makes the walk treacherous in the winter. No matter what the weather is like, he still goes every single day, simply “because [he] loves her.”

7 James Davis

James Davis met Patsy when he was 11 and she was seven. He asked her out when she was a teenager and their first date was to the strawberry festival. After that first date, they were inseparable. They married in 1961 and had five kids together. About 30 years ago, they moved into their home in Stevenson, Alabama.

As they got older together, Patsy suffered from various ailments and James retired from his job as an electrical worker to help his wife. As she was dying, Patsy asked James to bury her in their yard. James couldn’t deny his wife of 48 years her dying wish, so when she passed away in April 2009, James buried Patsy in their front yard beside the front porch, complete with a headstone.

This is when Davis confesses he made a mistake, which was asking for permission from the city to bury her there. While private burials are allowed in Alabama, they are not allowed inside the town limits. One major problem is that when James dies, he plans to be buried next to his wife. Having the bodies buried there would make it impossible to sell the land again, so they demanded that the body be removed.

Davis dug his heels in and the legal battle lasted four years. He brought his case all the way to the Supreme Court of Alabama, but lost the ruling 5–3. On November 15, 2013, he finally agreed to allow city officials to exhume his wife and have her remains cremated. However, he is now refusing to remove the headstone, which is also against city bylaws.

6 Faizul Hasan Kadari

When Faizul Hasan Kadari’s wife passed away in December 2011, she was worried that she would be forgotten, since they didn’t have children to carry on their name. Kadari made a promise to his wife on her deathbed that he would do something to ensure she would always be remembered.

Taking a page out of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s playbook, Kadari is constructing his own miniature Taj Mahal. Kadari started the construction of his version of the Taj Mahal in Bulandshahr, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, in February 2012. The Mini Taj Mahal is 15 meters by 15 meters (50 ft by 50 ft) and made from sandstone, redstone, cement, and iron. He has used up his entire life savings and sold family heirlooms to fund the construction of the building that houses his wife’s body and will be Kadari’s final resting place once he passes away.

Unfortunately, Kadari has run out of money, so he is unsure how he will complete his monument for his dearly departed. Kadari refuses to take donations to complete it because he wants to do it himself, but he is a retired postmaster who makes very little on his pension. Kadari is now 77 years old and worried that he will not complete the structure before he passes away himself.

5 Ruth Huber Bostic

Over the span of 14 years, Ruth Huber Bostic’s home in Raleigh, North Carolina became more and more decrepit. The only part of the land that Ruth maintained was her garden, where she was often seen talking to her plants. Otherwise, the house and the yard were in shambles.

Besides her plants, she didn’t really talk to anyone else on her street. When she did, she told bizarre stories about working in one of Hitler’s concentration camps. Mostly, though, her interactions consisted of screaming at people and chasing them off her lawn. This, of course, led to some run-ins with neighbors. They repeatedly asked her to clean up her lawn, and in the end, she poured concrete onto her front yard and garden.

People on her street accepted that she was just a mentally ill woman living in a rundown house after her husband ran away 14 years beforehand. Ruth alienated everyone in her life so much so that her body wasn’t discovered until a month after she died in January 2010, and only then because the mailman noticed she wasn’t picking up her mail.

A few months after her death, the police received inquiries regarding the whereabouts of Ruth’s husband. His Social Security checks were going into a joint account that was now closed due to Ruth’s death. Police began to investigate and found that the last anyone had recalled talking with David was in 1994. During a search of the house, they found a record that showed he voted in 1996, but after that, there was no sign of him.

The police talked to the neighbors, who told them how much time Ruth spent on her garden before she poured concrete over it. The detectives broke up the cement and dug into the garden, where they found David’s body. They do not think his death was foul play, as he was in an 84-year-old man in poor health. It turned out poor Ruth was just a heartbroken old woman, spending her days talking to her deceased husband, which explains why she was so defensive about her garden.

4 Margaret Bernstorff

The Bernstorff family moved into their home in Evanston, Illinois in the 1920s. Frank and Lilian’s family would grow in that house, where they had four children named Anita, Frank, Margaret, and Elaine. The children never married and never moved out of the house.

Margaret was the most visible of the four siblings. She was friendly with neighbors, who often saw her tending to her garden. She was social enough that her neighbors would do her small favors like drop off groceries for her. By all accounts, Margaret was a nice, older, lucid neighbor.

She was the most visible because her siblings literally never moved out—that is, they kept dying. The first to go was Elaine Bernstorff, who was born in 1916. She was last seen alive in the early 1980s. The second was 83-year-old Frank, who died in 2003. The eldest of the four siblings was Anita, who made it all the way to the age of 98 before she died.

Margaret never told anyone that her siblings had died. When people would ask where they were, she would just explain that they had gone to live with other relatives. The bodies were found by police, after being contacted by Evanston’s community health division manager. The bodies were in two different parts of the house with blankets thrown over them. All of them appeared to have died of natural causes.

3 Tsiuri Kvaratskhelia

Losing a child is the ultimate nightmare for any parent. It’s understandable that a parent would find it very hard to bury their child, but it’s important to the grieving process. The sad truth about death is that people need to move on.

Tsiuri Kvaratskhelia is a mother who had a hard time letting go. Her son, Joni, died from unknown causes when he was 22 years old in 1995. Since then, she has been taking care of her son’s body in the basement of her home in Georgia. She has been maintaining his body by essentially pickling him in rubbing alcohol and covering him in sheets. She even went as far as giving him a new change of clothes every year on his birthday. She eventually had to stop doing this in 2010, when the decay had gotten too extreme.

Tsiuri justified this behavior with the fact that Joni had a son before he died. She says Joni was a good man and she wanted her grandchild to know his father.

2 Le Van

Le Van’s marriage to Pham Thi Suong was arranged by their parents, who were neighbors. They weren’t in love when they married, but over the years, their love grew along with their family. In all, they had seven children together.

Sadly, their marriage came to an abrupt end in 2003 when Pham passed away. Heartbroken, Le went to the graveyard every night for 20 months to sleep on her grave. He even dug a tunnel that would allow him to visit his wife after inconveniences like the weather started getting in the way of his nightly routine.

Eventually, his children found out about it and forbid him from going to the cemetery. His response was to dig up her body in November 2004, which he brought home and encased in clay. He painted the clay to look more like a woman, put some clothes on her, and placed her in his bed, where she has remained ever since. Le Van cleans the statue daily because he wants his wife to stay beautiful. He also buys her makeup and paints it on the statue, in addition to making dresses for her.

Authorities have tried to remove the body, but despite their efforts, they have not legally been able to take the body from Le Van.

1 Casie

A woman known only as Casie who appeared on TLC’s My Strange Addiction met her husband, Shawn, in 2008. Casie’s mother said that her daughter had never been happier than when she was with Shawn. Life was good for two and a half years until a surprise asthma attack killed Shawn just after they were married, making Casie a 26-year-old widow.

Casie was understandably devastated by the loss. What isn’t understandable is how Casie dealt with the death. At first, Casie just brought Shawn’s ashes with her everywhere she went. She would talk to the ashes and even make dinner for them. One day, Casie got some of the ashes on her finger and thought it would be disrespectful for her to wipe Shawn off on a towel. Instead, she decided to lick him off. Casie continued to eat Shawn’s ashes, consuming 450 grams (1 lb) over the course of five months.

She describes the taste as a combination of “rotten eggs, sand, and sandpaper,” but she has grown to love it. As you might imagine, this could be a major health concern. The ashes are not just those belonging to Shawn, but also contain traces of embalming fluid, which can lead to psychosis. That’s not what concerns Casie, though—she’s mostly worried that once she eats the remaining 2.3 kilograms (5 lb) of ashes, there will be nothing left of Shawn.

Robert Grimminck is a Canadian crime-fiction writer. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

fact checked by Jamie Frater