Eternal Love: 'Til Death Do Us Part?

(Photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert)
(Photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert)

How far would you go for love? Marriage vows often include the phrase, "Until death do us part," but what if the surviving partner isn't ready to be parted from the dead one?

What if, instead, the husband preserves his wife's body and keeps her in a mausoleum so that he can visit her every day? What if he keeps her in his living room? Or what if the wife decides that she cannot bear to bury her husband and merely keeps him in her apartment, knowing that she, too, will soon die of old age.

It's rare, but there are several stories of people preserving their loved ones -- above ground -- so as not to lose them. These people then regularly visit, if not consistently live with, the bodies of their beloved lost spouses. Often, this situation will consume their lives.

What drives this urge? Who is doing this, and what lengths are they going to? Is it even true? Let's take a closer look at this taboo extent of love.

Why?

The question when hearing these stories is obviously, "Why?"

Obviously we do not want to deal with death, do not want to lose a loved one. It is painful to suddenly have a hole gored in our lives, especially when it is a spouse's death. After all, hypothetically we marry because we want to grow old with that person and share our lives. A spouse is the only family we choose to have (besides the occasional pet), so I cannot imagine the pain of losing that person.

Everyone grieves differently: Some draw into themselves, some lash out, and some seek solace in the comfort of friends and family.

And some, apparently, choose never to let go.

Man Lives with Dead Wife

I first saw this story on Ripley's Believe It or Not. This man's wife died on pneumonia thirteen years ago, but he still spends every day with her. Sometimes he even spends the night next to her. How? He has preserved her body in a mausoleum in his backyard.

The video is heartbreaking. This old man clearly loved his wife so much. It makes you wonder why such a treasured relationship has to have one of the members taken from it when there are so many failed marriages out there.

"Time heals everything," he says that people tell him. But he insists that it doesn't.

Man Dies Next to Months-Dead Wife

A Tokyo man's body finally gives out on him. This is not the stuff of newspaper headlines. But what about when his wife's body is found, as well, and then identified as having been dead for months?

Police found him collapsed in his apartment hallway, but his wife was found laying propped up on the couch. Police suspect no foul play in either of the deaths.

To me, it appears that, at 77 years old, this man knew that his time was coming and could not bear to be without his wife during the last of his days. Creepy? Maybe, when you think about the logistics of it. But the story is touching to me in the face of all the failed relationships we see in the news and in our daily lives.

Woman Keeps Husband's Body

An elderly, quiet, well-liked Brooklyn woman calls the police to report the death of her husband. The newsworthy thing? The police arrived at her house to discover her husband's skeletal remains, whereupon a forensic specialist declared that he had been dead for at least three years.

Charges were not filed on the woman because foul play was not suspected.

She was 77 years old at the time, and perhaps she felt the same as the Tokyo man but was not lucky enough to follow her husband in so short a time, and after three years she felt that his body was too much of a burden.

One urban legend says that a man kept his dead wife in a glass coffee table coffin.
One urban legend says that a man kept his dead wife in a glass coffee table coffin.

Wife in a Glass Coffee Table

According to Snopes' analysis, this one must be a hoax, mostly because of the illegality of having a dead body in your living room.

It is supposedly a story in an email circling since 2000 about a young American man (about 32 years old) who entombed his dead wife in a special glass coffin and then used her as a coffee table. Apparently she had a sense of humor, and he thought that she would enjoy being his coffee table for all eternity. The email states that he lost some friends over this incident but that his "true friends" saw beyond it.

If it isn't true, then it makes for a great story. But while this may seem "out there," it certainly is not much different than other similar but very real stories about the post-mortem preservation of a loved one.

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What Do You Think?

So what do you think? Is this love? Is it healthy love? Or is it obsession? Are they sick? Can we judge these people, or should we admire them for their commitment?

I'd love to hear any and all opinions or maybe you've seen a story like this somewhere that you'd like to share.

Weigh in and leave a comment!

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Comments 18 comments

C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 8 years ago from NW Indiana

I do not want to be the judge of someone else as I feel God is there to do so. I do know that I personally would be consumed by such an action and it would be terribly unhealthy for me. I have lost many close relatives and friends and I consider it a part of the universal process.I believe that our spirits live on, we are all energy and it is continuous motion. The spirit just moves on to a different plane or level.Maybe that is my way of justifying death.


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan Author

I agree, C.S. that I do not feel it is my job to judge people. I also think that it would consume me and make me completely unable to move on or do anything else. Thanks for weighing in!


madheadquaters profile image

madheadquaters 8 years ago from PLANET EARTH

Maybe these are just examples of what true and pure love is,...I guess what you would call an undying commentment,...Or it is a way for them to continue there commitment till it is there time to pass,...Who's to judge,...Not us.

I don't believe there is life after death,...I Know that the is life after death,...Have been there and I liked it! We live in two worlds here, The human world and the spirit world,...Till our Flesh dude brakes down or becomes broken,...Then like everything else it returns to the earth. Yet The True Essence of your being Lives on,...Know it to be a fact.

This could also be a way for them to connect with there loved one on the other side,...Or a want or a need to connect.

Whatever the case maybe it sure looks like a form of great love and respect for ons fellow man,...And if it is,...What kind of friend would they be ? And what secrets do they hold that have yet to be told,...I guess it is sometimes easier to show everyone how much you loved them,...Than it is to tell them.

Nicely done Helen


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks for reading and for the lovely comment, madheadquaters. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!


BM 7 years ago

surprised, but i do believe love is eternal and it is a gift from God.If it can be done....?


Melody Lagrimas profile image

Melody Lagrimas 7 years ago from Philippines

Amazing! Well, I guess, to each his own. Nice hub.


celestialmoon71 profile image

celestialmoon71 7 years ago from Middleboro, Massachusetts

my best friend lost her husband of 19 years at the age of 39, but I can't imagine that he would want her to hold onto him in this fashion. Why live with the constant grief, and the reminder everyday of seeing your loved ones body.. death is hard enough without adding insult to injury. Life is too beautiful not to continue on, however hard it is.. I know when my time comes I want my future husband to keep on living and be happy. He doesn't need to see my body, but look in his heart and there is where I will be...


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 7 years ago from Manhattan Author

celestialmoon, I could not have put it better myself. You are absolutely right that need to keep on living, not get stuck in one time period of our lives. Thank you so much for your well-put comment.


Angel 7 years ago

Isn't everyone sarching for eternal love? The essence of our existence is love and sometimes I feel is it really out there.

How many of us get consumed in our daily chores and forget about the true beauty of life.I am a man who believes in the purity and essence of selfless love and am still waiting for the ONE who I believe very strongly is out there,the universe is conspiring to bring her to me and I will wait till the dawn shines on my hope and takes me away from the money,fame,awards I have achieved so that I can feel human again.


Shubhadevi profile image

Shubhadevi 7 years ago

It may be a form of affection. Birth and death are common in the life. We have to move on from there. If we keep the body the dead person above ground, it may affect your life further. It is better to go for some diversions despite feeling for it.


deepti 7 years ago

i need help from all of you because i m 24 years girl, and have no experience about life,but sudden death has happan of my love (sanjay raj) i felt that i should go with him , i should do sucide to reach him because he has done true love with me sujest me

deepti


PennyL 7 years ago

I was searching for something regarding death and depression, as I am terribly worried. My stepfather died a few months ago. He had made a name for himself in his field, but my mother spent a number of years being his caregiver. While she hated the lack of support the medical and financial system provides the family (and even seeks to impoverish the family), she did what she could to give him the best care at home she could, though she was not a trained professional.

Let me also say that my parents fought like cats and dogs during the time they were married. I spent a good portion of my life being the responsible child in the family that took it all in.

He passed away a few months ago. The both of us worked tirelessly on his funeral, designing and printing the funeral programs and attended the funeral short of 48 hours sleep. No help from siblings as I am the closest to her and my siblings are flakes and losers.

Once the funeral and interment was done, she immediately set us both to work on his memorial and memorial program. I saw nothing wrong with it at the time. The turnout at his funeral was abysmal and far less than we expected, despite our efforts to get the word out to the appropriate people that he'd passed away. What I didn't realize was that the memorial would then become absolute obsession.

The memorial, despite an entire summer's worth of work, mostly on her part, since I didn't realize all she was doing, but also the constant flurry of updates, upgrades, and changes to the memorial program was had a worst turnout than the funeral, amongst a bunch of other things that went wrong, including the weather. I thought the 2 of us would kill ourselves with all that needed to be brought to the memorial. It was terrible.

To reiterate, we spent the summer working on the memorial. It is now been 2 months since the memorial and we are still updating the "final version" of this program. It will now become 30 pages long.

My mother has always been a sane and strong person. Very smart and very level-headed. I also realize that the quality of the memorial was impacted by the lack of professionalism by those who were called to be involved in it and that some people submitted materials for the program late if not after the memorial. Way late. I also realize that she has had financial stresses as a result of how caregivers (and subsequent surviving spouses are treated). (Those who don't know will have the unfortunate surprise of finding out how unprepared they are for this.) On occasion, she also seems to remember him as a better person than he was to his family.

I simply want to know what other people's take is on this. I know that it is not unusual for a couple to constantly fight and then for the survivor to feel lonely. But I worry about her. Although she is a few years his junior, I worry about her reaction to his death. I don't know if she is simply temporarily depressed or has developed permanent alteration in her mental status due to the stress and depression of the situation. As a result, I have no idea how to help her and if she needs help. I don't know if this is urgent or if I should wait and allow this to take it's course. The last thing I want to have happen is for her to continue along this path and follow him to his death while I stand by and watch. I love her dearly and she deserves better than her marriage to him ever got her. I want her to embrace the new life she now has (and apparently hoped to have again one day). She is so talented also. I do not want the remainder of her life to be spent on resurrecting my stepfather. Something which he could no seem to do for himself when he was alive. I had always worried he would slowly rob her of her life and now that he's gone, it seems to be a nightmare come true.

If anyone can direct me to any place where I can obtain advice or help, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 7 years ago from Manhattan Author

PennyL, it sounds like it might be best for your mother to see a professional. She may not need Official Therapy, but she certainly needs to address her feelings because it sounds like she's just running from them at this point. Additionally, that would be the best source of advice for both of you about how you can move through this very difficult period in your life. You don't need to worry that you'll be overreacting; one session of therapy won't hurt anyone, but it might do a world of good!! Good luck, and thanks for sharing your story!


hakjaved profile image

hakjaved 6 years ago from United States of America

Well, there's a reason that account of the old man was recorded by Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Because well, it was odd. But I think the greater concern these days is the approximate 40-50% divorce rate trend, which is only going up slowly. When homosexual people wanted marriage, we all cried out that they were destroying the sanctity of marriage. But what about the heterosexual people destroying marriage? I mean, they know they can date, right?


Journey Home 6 years ago from wherever i'm needed

After reading these letters I can only think that I was right, there really isn't death,but a transformation as we shed our earthly bodies we slip into our Spiritual forms. And live on. Thank you everyone. Journey Home.


Moms-Secret profile image

Moms-Secret 5 years ago from Central Florida

We were not put here to judge although so much of our 'modern' life is based exclusively on the judgement of self and others. While I would not do it, I can't say that I don't understand the feeling.

I loved, I lost, I may have 50 years or more here without him. In my opinion, he was not meant to be held anywhere but inside of me, my heart, my memories. Everything else is weight on an already heavy life.


Marjatta profile image

Marjatta 4 years ago

I hope the original author of this piece is still following its responses. But the original author's last response was two years ago, so I doubt it. Nevertheless, at least we have our own comments to follow on this topic.

I know the feeling of wanting to cling to the physical remains of a person we love. Those remains symbolize that person, but they aren't that person. Their spirit was lifted up and away the moment they left this physical world.

While perhaps comforting to see the image of someone who has passed before us, we still have to realize that it is only an image. It is not them. It is the body they dwelled within while on this earth, but it no longer contains their essence.

For those of us left behind, I hope we can all make the most of the lives we have here on earth and look forward in wonder and awe at the life still to come ... the life that our loved ones are already experiencing. Instead of trying to keep them here on earth, perhaps we should be trying to imagine how wonderful their lives are now and looking forward to joining them someday. I don't think that anchoring their images to this life they had on earth is doing them any good, and it certainly isn't doing us any good. The whole point of faith is believing in eternity ... both in life and love.


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 4 years ago from Manhattan Author

I'm still here, Marjatta! Just haven't had anything to say in response.

I think that as part of the grieving process, we need to let go of that physical image, you're right.

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