Famous Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf once said, “Nothing on earth can make up for the loss of one who has loved you.” That may be true for most for us, but for some, it seems they’ve found a way around it.
Ha Lam, a Vietnamese man from the central Quang Nam province, exhumed his wife from her grave and has been living and sleeping with her corpse since 2003. Apparently, Mr. Lam isn’t the only one who shares this coping tactic.
The International Business Times reported a Russian widow kept her husband’s corpse for three years, and even had her children “feed” him every day because he would eventually come back to life. A Brussels woman slept next to her husband’s mummified corpse for over a year. According to the article (warning: graphic images), “[e]ven though the smell of human decay is quite specific, many people equate that smell to the smell of garbage and once the body has become rotten the smell does decrease significantly.”
Modern treatment of the deceased varies significantly, but in the U.S., it’s socially acceptable to keep at least some tangible artifact of the deceased loved one. Understandably, different cultures could see our traditional funeral practices and embalming methods akin to the stories above. But at some point, refusing to let go becomes illegal.
North Carolina law prohibits disinterment unless certain criteria are met. The government can disinter when it is “reasonably necessary to perform its governmental functions and the duties delegated to it by law.” Churches may disinter when they “expand or enlarge an existing church facility; or better to care for and maintain graves, and electric companies are can remove graves from their land to build reservoirs. In fact, any person or corporation who owns land on which an abandoned cemetery is located may remove the graves after obtaining consent from the town or county.