After reading the following, you'll most likely agree that being a mortician or funeral worker has got to be one of the most unpredictable occupations known to mankind. It's not every day that you hear of what really goes on behind the scenes of a funeral or morgue. Well, now you know.
For more stories, you can find the source at the end of the article.
‘He Still Visits My Deceased Cousin’
“I come from a smallish town. We have one mortician and everyone knows him. His daughter dated my cousin during this period of time. One year, a different cousin got into a bad car accident right outside of the county and died on impact. Of course, they called it in and he was asked to come down to the scene and retrieve the body. He was told the estimated age of the girl, the make of her vehicle and which direction she was driving on the highway. The age and vehicle make matched that of his daughter who was visiting her boyfriend at the time. He couldn’t get a hold of his daughter so he showed up at the scene fully prepared to be picking up his own child.
Sadly enough, this scared him so badly that this was the last funeral he ever performed. 8 years later and he still visits my deceased cousin’s parents regularly, just to check in. It’s clearly stuck with him.”
‘I Kept My Mouth Shut’
“Licensed embalmer here. I’ve worked for large funeral homes and did coroner removals for a decently large city and currently work as a trade embalmer. I’ve had lots of suicides embalmed a 4-year-old that a cop blew a stop sign and T-boned their minivan, that one really hurt. But the one that was weird an 18-year-old girl that took her own life. So I do the embalming like normal even though it sucked having to do that. Now the weird part was I got a text from my friends a few hours later saying that another one of our friend’s fiance’s sister also takes her life and if I knew anything about it, which really, really sucked because my friend’s wedding was in 4 days. It turns out that 18-year -old was the sister of the bride. So I had to go to the wedding 4 days later while everyone is still grieving the loss and keep my mouth shut about being the one that embalmed her. This was in a town of about 250,000 people.”
An Open Casket
“I was a student at the time but my first ever bloater was brought in and once we ‘popped’ him insides were outsides and everywhere. I would not recommend that. On my first night shift, I thought the staff was messing with me because I kept hearing what sounded like breathing…it was a fresh body that was brought in and was releasing gas. I’d never dealt with anyone dying in the hour being brought in so it was scary hearing this body ‘breathing’. I’ve been there when family members have passed and witness breathing and limbs moving so I know it’s normal but as a student, the staff like to screw with you.
A bizarre incident was piecing a guy back together after he took his life. The family wanted an open casket and we had to try our best to make that happen. Then one of the family members asked if they still wanted an open casket because he just didn’t feel like it was right. The dad come in, sees that no matter how we tried we couldn’t make him look the same as before and agrees that family shouldn’t see him this way. The day we delivered him to the funeral parlor, the family changed their mind and has an opened casket anyway. We then found out the rest of family didn’t know the means he used to take his life. We ended up getting a letter of complaint from other members of the family for the open casket.
I finished as a student a few days after but would still love to be in that career.”
The Worst Time To Hear Whale Noises
“My mother was a mortician. Of the stories, she’s told me, the creepiest would either be the guy that had his face eaten by wild boars while hunting (guess he wasn’t that good at it) or the guy that fell into a wood chipper. Funny (eh…poor word choice) thing was, I was at a breakfast a few days later where fellow high schoolers were trying to gross out the girls at the table, and when they pointed out that I wasn’t really bothered by it, I kept chewing and said, ‘Yeah, my mom got that guy. She said it was gross.’ Everyone goes silent, I stopped chewing and looked up to everyone looking pale. Shrugged, ‘Oh, Y’all forgot she’s a mortician didn’t you?’, and kept eating.
This one was uncomfortable for her and was one that was also kind of sad. This woman was morbidly obese. Like, when they somehow all got her on the gurney at her home, when they were pushing it out, the wheels were pushing indentions down into the wood floors. Well, apparently this woman blue whales. The family kept going on and on about it. So the time comes for them to bring the clothes for her wake, they bring a big blue muumuu and a gaudy blue whale brooch. Then they hand her my mother the CD to play. Usually, it’s church hymns or sad country songs etc. No one listens to it before, because why would you. So the service starts, Mom pops the CD in, and boop BLUE WHALE CALLS fill the funeral home. My mom was very professional with her job, but every funeral director had to excuse themselves to compose themselves.”
“My best friend works in the death business and this is my favorite story by her. She tells me all sorts of lovely things about her job and the recoveries she has done but my favorite involves a gurney and some stairs. To set the scene, a family called in that their mother had passed in her apartment. It was on the third story and had narrow halls and no elevators.
Anyways, my friend went to pick up the body to take back to the funeral home with an assistant. They get up there and lift this heavy set woman on to the gurney and begin their journey down to the van. Mind you, the whole family was there and pretty much in hysterics and crowded around as they make their way to the stairs. With the family watching, they make it about halfway down the first flight of stairs when the body starts to slide. There’s no way to reposition, so my friend who is at the foot of the gurney is now about butt level to the freshly deceased.
So, trying to make the best of the situation they continue their way down and try not to shift the body anymore. The thing about dead bodies is that gas starts to exit pretty quickly and I’m sure you know where the story is going. The body started letting out farts straight into my friend’s face. ‘Pfffft, Pfft, Pfft, Pfft’ with every step down they took and this poor girl has to keep a straight face while getting crop dusted by a dead lady with her whole family watching.”
Back From The Dead
“Not a mortician but this comes from my mother back when she was a teenager. The guy she knows takes a job with the local funeral home. He works the graveyard shift and all was well for the first few months. The guy was often weirded out at work and claims that the building is haunted. Earlier in the evening, they get a call from the hospital saying that they have a lady there ready for pickup. They pick her up, the guy is freaking out and says he has a bad feeling. Later in the evening, the mortician has to step out for a bit, leaving the guy there alone with the dead lady. He goes about his work, still, a little freaked out. Suddenly he hears this low, soft moan. He swears it is just his mind playing tricks on him and goes about his business. He hears it again, a little louder than the last time. But, It was late, he was alone and he thought he was just hearing things maybe it was just the pipes settling or the plumbing was old after all.
As short time passes and it is louder, at this point he is sure he isn’t just imaging things, he knows he heard the dead lady moan. His first thought was the mortician was messing with him, he has been shaken all evening and this jerk was pranking him. He marches over and says very funny, yanks back the sheet covering the dead lady expecting to find the mortician somewhere around her… the dead lady grabs the guy’s wrist…he lets out this scream and bolts for the door. He forgets his car and runs all the way home.
It turns out, the old lady wasn’t dead, the hospital got it wrong. She had been in a coma or something and they had been sure she had passed on earlier that morning. She woke up at the funeral home and scared the life out of her assistant. He quit the next day and said he would never set foot there ever again.”
‘A Stomach Full Of Streamers’
“My dad was a coroner, if I remember correctly, before switching to being a doctor. I can never remember the details correctly for the medical stuff but pretty much the body getting examined was a former birthday clown. There weren’t any external wounds so he figured the cause of death was internal. The guy had gastroparesis which to my dad meant, ‘cool, stomach contents should be in good shape’. His team opens the dude up and sees this flurry of stuff.
There are partially digested birthday cake, that edible confetti stuff, streamers, and about some other pill like substances next to all of it. My dad sifts through the stomach some more and sees what looks like a sponge of some kind. He pulls one out and it’s sponge-dino that comes in those capsules you drop in water. He finds more, about a small biomes worth. He thought he was getting pranked. The story pieces together as the clown decided to end it with some pills and a few too many drinks, he gets a store-bought cake and eats it with everything on it, then chases down some dino-sponges just for the heck of it.”
Ghosts Exist, Right?
“About 7 years ago, my friend took a gig as a custodian for a funeral home. The job description itself sounded great from what he told me.
It was graveyard shift and not full-time, but the pay was good. The funeral home was pretty small (actually been to some funeral services there before), basically a small-medium sized chapel, an extension on the side room to seat more people, and then a hall with bathrooms and a few offices.
Next, the funeral home was a separate garage looking building where the mortician would take care of his business. Okay, now let’s get to the story.
The guy only worked the job 6 days before leaving. Here’s how he described it to me. The first few days went okay. He was nervous about working there at night but was able to brave it out. His 4th day, he finishes the main building and goes to quickly check the second building. From how he explained it to me, he actually didn’t really need to clean in there as much as do a quick walkthrough.
He goes in, quickly looks around and then starts to leave. Then, at the last moment, he hears something drop and hit the ground. He stops and stares back for a moment, and decides to ‘screw it, I don’t care’.
This is where it gets very gets weird. He walks back inside the main building to put away supplies when he swears he catches what looks like someone sitting in one of the pews get up and walk away. This was only from the corner of his eye, but it was enough to stun him in fear.
He takes a moment to gather himself, then walks out, and locks everything up for the night. Just at that last moment, he hears a loud bang, like a door slamming. He bolts to his car and speeds home. The following days didn’t have anything drastic like that, but that single event was enough for him to know the job just wasn’t for him.”
Gone To Mush Like Wet Soap
“My dad is a mortician. We had actually lived above a funeral home and my life had been just like the film ‘My Girl’, he has been a mortician for over 40 years and has tons of stories!
The worst by far is the human soup guy. Apparently, this elderly gentleman passed away while having a bath…with the water still running. He was living alone in the house with very little family. I don’t remember how long he was in the bath before someone found him. My dad goes to pick up the body and its human soup. The hot water constantly running and the amount of time cause his body to turn to mush.
He said the smell was the worst he’d ever smelt. He got back to the office later that day and his boss told him to throw away his suit and that he’d buy him another!”
Dr. Bill Bass
“Well this was not really a mortuary, but I was a student many years ago in the Anthropology Department at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Bill Bass, a sort of Phineas Taylor Barnum of Forensic Anthropology (not a faker, but a heck of a promoter) was the department head and a major focus of the department was forensic anthropology (this was also before DNA testing, so skeletal forensics was essential in identifying bodies that were partially decayed).
Dr. Bass would get about 15 or 20 cases every year of decayed or skeletal remains to hopefully identify or at least profile (race, gender, approximate age, any distinguishing characteristics, and sometimes, the cause of death). Usually, these were vagrants, crime victims, or just historic or prehistoric (Native American) remains.
One time in West Tennessee they found a clothed but fully skeletonized body in a patch of dense vegetation in a little town in West Tennessee. The local sheriff and coroner loaded the body into the back of a pickup truck and drove the corpse all the way across the state (400 miles) to Knoxville so Dr. Bass could do an identity check.
When the truck arrived, Dr. Bass went out and opened the body bag to find a complete skeleton that remained fully dressed. He looked the body up and down and then reached into the front pocket of the corpse’s jeans and pulled out a wallet, which he opened to read off the name, address, race, height, hair and eye color of the deceased. The sheriff and the coroner were a bit embarrassed.
It turned out the dead guy had only been missing for about a week, but in the dense foliage of a West Tennessee thicket in mid-summer, the bugs and Beatles had completely stripped his bones of flesh (Bass did do a follow-up to make sure the driver’s license and the corpse were a match).
Dr. Bass had many interesting cases. He even founded the infamous Body Farm, has written several books (fiction and non-fiction) and is featured (in fictional form) in many of Patricia Cornwell’s crime novels.”
In A Small Town In Western South Dakota
“This happened to my Dad and his friend (the mortician, Mr. Mort).
My Dad was doing some business on the other side of the state, pretty close to where his friend Mr. Mort lived. Mr. Mort invited him for a coffee, but said, ‘hey, while you’re here, can you help me with a particularly heavy one?’, meaning a large body needed to be cremated. My Dad was in prime shape at the time and said sure.
There was a 350 to the 400-pound lady that needed to be moved from a gurney to the conveyor belt contraption, to be rolled into the crematorium furnace. Normally, she’d be placed into some kind of cardboard coffin, but due to her weight, she had to go in wearing a hospital gown. After some planning and effort, they successfully moved her over to the belt without dropping her, pushed her into the furnace, and turned it on.
The crematorium was nearly automated. You would basically, push a button, and it went through everything it needed to do to properly turn whatever was inside to ash. So, my Dad and Mr. Mort set it and walked down the street for a coffee.
About 20 minutes later, they see a firetruck go by, and think nothing of it. Then another one goes by. This was a small town in western South Dakota, so there weren’t many firetrucks. They walked outside, and there were flames coming from the crematorium…and some oil was coming from the building. And the smell of burnt ham.
The lady was so large that there wasn’t enough space around her body in the furnace to generate the heat necessary to properly turn her into ash. But there was enough heat to melt her skin, and turn her fat reserves into hot oil, and leak out of the crematorium. The oil set the building on fire (thankfully it was in a separated garage, so the entire mortuary didn’t go up in flames), and flaming oil started to flow down the driveway and down the street. The first fire engine was parked too close to the fire, and the hot oil flowed past the tires on one corner, then melted and popped them. So you had a bit of pandemonium of firefighters spraying the flames, and others jumping into the two firetrucks to move them away as soon as possible. “
Points are edited for clarity.