Human cremains
Human cremains -- a woman's grim addiction. Image: styro/Flickr/CC BY

Grief affects people in different ways. But one woman has found a bizarre way of dealing with the loss of her husband that many have found disturbing. She finds herself compelled to devour his ashes.

All-consuming grief

A 26-year-old Fayetteville, Tenn., woman identified only as Casie appeared on the season finale of TLC’s program “My Strange Addiction” due to the bizarre habit she developed as a way to deal with her grief.

A match made in heaven

Casie and her husband Shawn met in 2008 and married 10 months later. “Everything I had ever wanted in a man was right in front of me,” she said on the program.

Linda, Casie’s mother, said that the only time she believes her daughter was ever truly happy was during the two and a half years she spent with Shawn.

Gone too soon

In Casie’s words, her “world stopped turning” when Shawn died from a severe asthma attack in June.

Casie so far has been unable to let go. She began carrying Shawn’s ashes with her wherever she went — to the grocery store, to movies, to restaurants –  and carrying on conversations with the box that held them. She would cook his favorite foods for meals and continue to set his place at the table.

“Some people laugh,” Casie said. “They think I’m playing. But I’m serious. I mean, that’s my husband.”

A turn for the bizarre

Things took a turn for the bizarre one day when some of the ashes got onto her fingers. It happened as she was transferred the ashes from a temporary cardboard box into a memorial urn.

‘I didn’t want to wipe him away’

“I didn’t want to wipe them off because that’s my husband and I don’t want to wipe him away,” Casie said on the program. “So I just licked it off my finger.”

By Casie’s report, the ashes taste like a combination of “rotten eggs, sand and sandpaper.” But that did not stop it from becoming a habit she could not stop. She estimated that she has eaten a pound of the six pounds worth of cremains to date.

Chemicals could cause psychosis

Medical experts on the show say the real danger of her habit is that human cremains contain chemicals that have been known to cause psychosis.

Checked into treatment

At the end of the program, Casie checked herself into an in-patient addiction treatment facility. She did not take the remainder of her husband’s ashes with her.


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