Widow Makes Cardboard Cutout of Her Husband

Woman even took the cardboard effigy of her husband to his funeral.

LONDON, April 29, 2010— -- A British woman has found a novel way to deal with the loss of her husband.

When Paul Challis died of cancer last July, his widow Maria, 35, created two six-foot-one-inch cardboard cutouts of him as a way to keep him around.

He even attended his own funeral. Since then, the physical reminder of Paul has taken on a life of its own.

His cardboard cutout celebrated Halloween as Dracula, Christmas as Santa Claus, and attended a close friend's wedding in a tie and boutonniere.

"I wanted him to attend his last party and since then, what's come off the back of it has been fun," Maria Challis told ABC News by telephone. "It's not something morbid, and it appears to help everybody handle his death."

Paul Challis learned he had two inoperable brain tumors in early 2009. He was gone within a few months, leaving behind his wife and two children, ages 7 and 9. Together, the couple owned a company in northwest England that specializes in window, door, roof and conservatory installation.

Now, his wife says, the physical token of his life has become a part of their household. "The cutout is in my dining room at home, and every now and then I move him around," Challis said. "People feel comfortable seeing him there, especially my children, who are worried they will forget he's there."

The Challis cutout has been featured in local newspapers, and the positive feedback has helped Maria Challis raise money for cancer charities. Life-size cardboard cutouts are available online with prices generally ranging from $75 to $150 each.

"We all raised a glass of champagne to him," said Challis, who made one of his cardboard cutouts to show him holding a bottle of the bubbly.

What, she was asked, would her late husband think of preserving his effervescent personality in cardboard?

"He'd probably say, 'That's right, you can't get rid of me that easy,'" she said. "He'd probably find it really funny."