A bone carving a widower made for his dead wife has been stolen from her Palmerston North grave.

And the family is urging anyone who knows where it is to give it back.

"I'm sad it's happened but I'm more sad for my dad," Candace Taylor said.

"My mum and dad were just soul mates and so that someone has had the audacity to go to her grave and take it has really broken him."

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Debbie Taylor, 59, died in November last year after suffering from heart failure and was buried at Kelvin Grove cemetery.

Her husband, Kevin, 61, visits her at least twice a week and last Thursday took her an intricate bone carving piece he'd spent about 100 hours crafting.

Taylor said bone carving was her father's hobby and he'd always made pieces for her mother.

The piece he'd made for her and left at her grave was an eagle, to represent her strength, and was engraved with his nickname for her, Misty.

But when he returned to the grave site on Sunday, the 10cm piece had been stolen.

Her father was devastated.

"I hate seeing what my dad's going through, losing his wife. People don't need that when they're grieving - these little things added on top of it," Taylor told the Herald.

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"I just can't even fathom words for it to be honest."

Taylor posted about the theft on Facebook because they want the piece back and want to warn anyone who receives it as a gift to know where it came from.

"I think it's very tapu that it's very tapu to touch someone's grave and take something from it."

I just wanted to put out there to the A-hole that stole the Bone Piece off my mums grave, that I hope karma serves you...

Posted by Candace Taylor on Monday, 13 January 2020

Taylor said in her gut, she knows the bone carving probably won't be returned but wanted to at least try.

If the thief did want to return the piece, she said they could leave it back at the grave or with cemetery staff - no questions asked.

And if anyone had any information, they could contact her anonymously.

"In the scheme of life this might seem very tiny but if it can upset my dad to that point, I want to fix it.

"It's not yours, give it back."