I'm still mulling over what I think of this business with the huggable ashes thing.
Certainly some clever entrepreneur has come up with a good money-making scheme, but somewhere in the back of my mind I'm thinking that this is just maybe a bit ghoulish.
To take this everywhere? What do you think? Ghoulish or comforting for family members?
Teddy Bear Stuffed With Baby's Ashes Comforts Grieving Mom
Lori Lemons says the teddy bear will help her through the trial of her daughter's accused murderer.
Wherever she goes, to a restaurant, to visit family and friends, or to court where her husband faces a murder trial in August, Lori Lemons takes her dead daughter with her.
NaKita Faith Lemons was two-and-a-half months old when her father, Milton Lee Lemons, allegedly shook her violently while watching her in the couple's apartment in Wayne on October 10.
NaKita died the next day, and Lori Lemons knew right away that she didn't want to visit a grave. She wanted her daughter cremated so she could keep her ashes at home.
But while surfing the Web for a suitable urn, Lemons came across Huggable Urns
, a site for a California company that sells urns shaped like teddy bears.
"I thought it was perfect," Lemons said this week.
"Now I have something to be able to hold on to. She can join me in parties. I can dress her up for the holidays. It's as soft as a baby, almost."
Lemons chose a 14-inch-tall, plush white teddy bear from Huggable Urns. With a zipper in the back and a sturdy, plastic-lined velvet pouch inside, it is designed to hold the ashes of a loved one or cherished pet.
"My son has taken naps with her, and I dress her up for the holidays like she's still part of the family, she's just in a bear form," Lemons said.
Huggable Urns is just one of many new ideas being marketed as ways to preserve, display or even make use of a cremated loved one's ashes. Ashes are being incorporated into jewelry, duck decoys, shotgun shells, fireworks, even Michael Jordan-model basketballs.
Putting ashes into teddy bears that can be hugged or carried around is the brainchild of Alexandra Lachini of Redding, CA. But she credits her father, John Romero, who died in 1998, with coming up with the idea, post mortem.
"My dad was not a spiritual guy," Lachini said this week. "When he passed, he started talking to me. 'Get me out of the closet,' that's what he said. I'm serious."
She went to her mother's home in Pollock Pines near Lake Tahoe and said, "Mom, where's Dad? She made this funny look and said, 'He's in the closet.' I said, 'Well, he doesn't want to be there.' "
Lachini said she took her father's ashes home, and "he started ... talking to me about the energy of the ashes and how important it was to keep them and hold them."
She said her father told her he wanted to go places with her, so she put his ashes in a nylon purse. Later, he suggested a teddy bear.
"My dad guided me to this company, Plush Creations in San Mateo, in the same building where my dad used to play bridge," Lachini said.
With her design ideas, the company helped create the bears, which come in a standard size and can be personalized in various ways, including with angel wings with rose petals on them and a halo.
The bear holding NaKita Lemons' ashes currently is outfitted in a pink dress her mother bought for Easter.
"I've taken her to restaurants, out to dinner, over to family members' houses," Lori Lemons said. "Actually, the majority of the people I come across say, 'Oh, that is so cool. That is just perfect. I would've never thought of that.' "
Lemons took the bear with her to the preliminary examination for her husband and plans to take it to his jury trial on a first-degree murder charge, scheduled to begin August 2. Lemons also brought it with her to court when a referee recommended that Milton Lemons' parental rights to the couple's other child, 2-year-old Milton Jr., be terminated. A judge agreed.
Milton Lemons told police he was angry and depressed when he shook his daughter to get her to stop crying. Detectives said he demonstrated using a stuffed animal.
"He's seen the bear," Lori Lemons said of her husband, whom she plans to divorce, though she is not sure he realizes his daughter's ashes are inside it. "I honestly don't know if he understands."
In addition to the 14-inch teddy bear urns for cremated remains, Huggable Urns sells 18-inch-square pillow-shaped urns and a plush 14-inch cat or dog to hold the remains of pets.
Prices range from $85 to $99. The company also offers various ways to personalize the urns, including with blankets and caps for the bears or bear-sized T-shirts with the insignia of the five military branches.