Cardboard Cut-Out Dead Dad

Paul Challis cardboard cut-out dead dadThis week has been a mixture of sex and death. Entrances and exits if you will. I was going to post something on sky burials but that got pipped to the post by this morning’s story of Paul Challis because it ties in so well with the Puerto Rican embalmed biker, David Morales Colón who was buried yesterday.

Paul Challis, pictured above, is literally, pictured. He died last year from cancer at the age of 38 and his adoring wife Maria had the life-size cut-out of him made for his funeral. However, afterwards she decided to keep the cut-out in their living room so that the children never forget him.

The story in the Telegraph is very touching and incredibly tragic as the couple seemed like a perfect match sharing jokes and banter about his impending death. Maria even took her husband’s cut-out to a friend’s wedding after his funeral but I am concerned that this is going to impair and undoubtedly prolong the grieving process; especially for the children.

I also know from my own research that pictures of loved ones are not simply pictures. Even if we know that a photograph is not the real object, adults can not easily destroy pictures of sentimental objects or spouses. We may consciously say that we can do these things but deep down we feel anxiety about damaging or disposing of representations. Imagine how difficult it will be for the Challis family to throw Paul out with the rubbish or burn him on the garden tip. I predict that the family will have to endure another funeral ceremony all over again for the cardboard cut-out dad.

What do you think?


Filed under In the News, Newspaper, Weird Story of the Week

11 responses to “Cardboard Cut-Out Dead Dad

  1. endlesspsych

    Well potential suitors of the widow may find it distinctly off putting…

    I predict that if it lasts long enough cut-out will he victim of teenage tantrum: “You’re not my real Dad” etc etc

  2. Gammidgy

    The longer they keep the cardboard facsimile the harder it will be to part with it and the more likely it will be damaged in some stupid mundane accident.

    I think it would be best if they quietly removed it from their lives. Rather than simply throw it away or destroy it, I’d suggest asking a close friend to look after it. Put it into storage until the grief is less acute.

  3. I also know from my own research that pictures of loved ones are not simply pictures. Even if we know that a photograph is not the real object, adults can not easily destroy pictures of sentimental objects or spouses.

    Interesting related story… my wife and I were working on cleaning out a room in my parents’ house, my mother being somewhat of a pathological hoarder, and we came across some items from my childhood that, while they inspired a brief sentimental pause, were things I would never look at nor likely ever think of again. They would only take up space.

    My wife said, “We can throw this out, right?” I couldn’t bring myself to answer “yes”, and yet I couldn’t come up with any possible reason to answer “no”. So after thinking for a bit, I told her, “Look, I won’t miss it if it’s gone, but I can’t bear the thought of seeing it in the trashcan. So go ahead and throw it out I guess, but just make sure I don’t see you doing it!” heh…

    Regarding the story at hand, I think Gammidgy is dead-on. For something like this, even having someone else dispose of it would likely be too painful, but even still they somehow have to get this effigy out of their lives. Conceal it from sight until they forget that it (the cut-out, not their dad!) ever existed.

  4. This approach seems to cross a line. Although perhaps striking a pose with one’s body for a viewing may do so as well, the viewing is a temporary event. Its not taxidermy. This seems like 2D taxidermy to me. Private keepsakes including photos may be important to keep the memory alive, which is adaptive. The “life”-size cut out, on an intuitive level “feels” maladaptive. As is typically the case with most intuitive feelings, I struggle to rationally defend my position; however, it seems to be more than an attempt to keep the memory alive. Are they keeping him alive and thus delaying/prolonging the grief process?

  5. Gammidgy

    I also think that if they hang on to the cardboard cut-out for too long there is a real probability they will remember the cut-out more than the man. Rather than a memento it may surplant richer memories.

  6. Oh dear. I’m glad I didn’t do this when Stephen died, I would never be able to throw it out.

    I know he is gone and I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife but it doesn’t stop me from imbuing his photos and possessions with some sort of imaginary ‘magical’ quality as if a part of him resides there still. Of course I know this isn’t so but the tangible things I have to remind me are extremely precious

  7. I know from my own experience that the photographs I have of my daughter are immeasurably important to me. Having said that, a life-sized cardboard cutout–while unique–just borders on obsessive.

    The dad/spouse is gone. The longer the family keeps this replacement, the harder it will be, and the parting will be tatamount to another funeral and another mourning period.

    I agree with the majority. Have a friend keep it and get used to it living with the memories and not the replacement.

  8. dmabus

    let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE* of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from any human objectives…

    this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*


    THE BOOBQUAKE – 911!

    hey, atheists don’t even BELIEVE IN BOOBIES!!!

    they thought BOOBIES had no effect… WRONG!

    see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:

    jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE….


    ETA: follow-up

    see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION – THAT OF LIBERATION – not just merely harmless expression…

    they thought BOOBIES had no effect… WRONG!

    Visit for the BOOBQUAKE:

    now, become Marxist Revolutionaries and FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!

  9. Arno

    Yeah, I believe this is his second post and it still lacks any form of coherence. Bruce seriously needs to start using the banhammer on this fella. Or alternatively, wordpress needs to modify its settings in such a way that links without www. can still be recognized and moderated.

    And I am still disappointed that there is a lack of caps lock in his post.

    Anyway, back to 2-D dad. I like the idea, and I can understand that Maria is using the picture. Parents of deceased children seem to leave the child’s room in the exact state as it was left by the child. Various cultures raise shrines in the house in remembrance to dead relatives. It wouldn’t surprise me much if the picture would undergo a similar fate. What I think Maria will do at some point, is move the figure to a separate room, which will become somewhat of a shrine, where they can remember/pray to their husband/father without having to necessarily visit his grave site.
    Is it an unhealthy way to deal with the deceased? I seriously don’t know. It seems to work for various cultures at least.
    The thing I am more concerned about actually, is the health of the children. When someone dies at such a young age of cancer, it is usually a strong hint that the problem is genetic. Let’s hope the children don’t share those particular genes of their dad.

  10. hya im wntin 2 cardboard cut outs of my boyfriend 1 for me and 1 for his mum we hve seen them in magazines i was just wondering how to get them and how much how they

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