Unable to deal with the loss of his beloved wife, a Vietnamese man dug up her remains, sealed them in a plaster sculpture and has been sleeping in the same bed with her for the last 16 years.

When the shocking story of Mr Le Van broke out in 2009, most people thought it was a hoax. After all, it’s hard to believe that someone could dig up their spouse’s remains from the cemetery, bring them back home and sleep in the same bed with her. And yet, that’s what this man has been doing for the last 16 years, and despite the opposition of relatives and fellow villagers, he has no plans to let his wife go anytime soon.

Mr Van and his wife were married in 1975. They hardly knew each other, let alone share romantic feelings, but their parents had arranged their union from a very young age, and soon after Van returned from military service, they were wed. As they got to know each other, the newly-wedded couple soon fell in love and lived happily. They had seven children and led a frugal but peaceful life, until one day in 2003 when Mr Van, who was working away from home, got the news that his wife had suddenly died. He rushed home but barely got to see his spouse’s face for a few minutes before she was buried.

At first, a chocked Le Van spent most of his time, night and day, at the cemetery, sleeping on his wife’s grave, but after a few months, he started worrying about bad weather and rain. He decided that the best way to stay close to his deceased wife was to dig a tunnel into her grave, so he could sleep next to her”. It wasn’t long before his children found out about his new sleeping place, and forbid him to spend his nights at the cemetery anymore. However, he couldn’t bear the thought of letting go of his wife forever.

One night, Le Van decided that if he couldn’t sleep at the cemetery, he would bring his wife’s remains home with him. First, he dug up her bones and placed them in a bag near the cemetery. Then he started making a hollow statue in the shape of a woman, out of plaster, cement, glue and sand and put his wife’s remains inside. Then he placed the hollow statue on the bed and laid next to it. He has been doing the same thing every night for the last 16 years.

When Le Van’s children learned about what he had done, they were furious and demanded that he return their mother’s body to her final resting place, but he refused, saying he couldn’t go on without her. Neighbours didn’t visit his house for years after learning that he had brought his wife’s bones back, and some even alerted authorities, accusing Le Van of spreading disease. Police tried convincing him to return his wife’s body to the cemetery repeatedly, but the stubborn man would not conform, so they eventually gave up.

“The local authorities asked Van to bury his wife again and the man agreed. But some time later, local people continued to complain that Van still held the remains in the house. We have done all the way but with the conservative nature of Mr Van, the incident has not been solved yet,” Mr Tran Trong Sanh, Chair of the town of Ha Lam, told VietnamNet in 2005.

According to Net News Vietnam, Le Van has been confined to a wheelchair for the last two years, but he still crawls in bed next to the statue containing his wife’s remains every night. He cleans it does its makeup every day, and changes its clothes every day, things that he never did when his wife was alive.

“When my wife was alive, she never wore a nice dress so now I have to make many nice clothes for her. I change clothes for her twice a day,” Le Van said.

“People said I’m crazy because I take care of a corpse but I strongly believe that she is always with me. I’ll definitely sleep with her dead body until I die.”