Woman has dead husband skinned so she can display his tattoos on the wall

Woman has dead husband skinned so she can display his tattoos on the wall

Nobody likes to think about death, but when you find out you have a terminal illness, you have no choice but to get your affairs in order. Some make plans to be buried in a cemetery next to family members, resting alongside their loved ones for eternity. Others choose cremation, scattering their ashes to the wind in a meaningful location, their remains blending with the natural world.

However, 41-year-old tattoo artist Chris Wenzel made a last wish you might not have heard before. Wenzel suffered from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease in which the large intestine (colon) and rectum become inflamed. Medical treatment can reduce the symptoms, but there is no known cure, and the illness can have life-threatening complications. Realizing his life could be cut short, he asked his wife, Cheryl, to skin his body, so his decorative tattoo art would be preserved.

Credit: CTV

Some people might find this decision shocking, but tattoo art was an essential part of Chris' life. He got his first tattoo at just nine years old, and went on run Electric Underground Tattoo in Saskatoon, Canada. He also tattooed his wife, Cheryl, who was unfazed by his final request.

"I thought, that’s different, but yeah, that’s cool," she told The Globe and Mail. "I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to get this done for him. You can hang a picture on a wall. A tattoo is something that has been done for hundreds of years. It’s just preserving it."

After complaining about chest pains, Chris died of his sleep last October. Cheryl investigated places that could fulfill his dying wish, and found Save My Ink Forever. The Ohio-based company specializes in preserving body art after death, creating an everlasting memorial for loved ones.

"Tattoos, you know, tell a story about a person," said Kyle Sherwood, the master embalmer and funeral director, while speaking with CTV Saskatoon. "And for someone to get something tattooed on them that they’re displaying for life, you know, means something to them. You wouldn’t burn or bury a Picasso and that’s what some of these pieces are."

Widow holding portrait of dead husband who was a tattoo artist Credit: CTV

Save My Ink Forever used a special formula to surgically remove Chris' skin, then preserved his body art in a frame. The process took three months and cost $70,700, with family and friends chipping in on GoFundMe. Cheryl said she plans to hang her husband's skin in his tattoo studio, where his children, 9 and 13, can admire it. And when she dies, she'd like her body art to be preserved, and displayed right by his.