Working at a funeral home is not an easy job. You’re surrounded by death. You’re surrounded by grief. The people you interact with have death on their mind. That is a tough environment to be in. Not to mention the pressure you’re put under to make sure everything goes right. You’re the final stop before sending a soul to the other side, you’ve got to get it right.
Of course, things aren’t always going to go as planned. There are too many variables, people are just too different. Enter: the creepy side of everything. You’re surrounded by dead bodies. You clean them, you embalm them, you dress them. That is a lot of death to be around, a lot of chances for creepiness.
With so many ways to die, things can get…bizarre. This list looks at some of the creepiest, weirdest things that morticians and funeral home workers have experienced during their time in the occupation. After the constant exposure to dead bodies, you expect them to behave in a certain way. You expect them to “stay dead.” People have a way of surprising you, even in death, and it’s these stories we’ve collected for your viewing pleasure. Don’t read this too late at night, as some of these stories might stick with you longer than you’d like. Some are crazy, some are spooky, and some are nasty. Enjoy this compilation of 15 creepiest things funeral home workers have witnessed on the job. And remember, if the lights start to flicker…run.
15. The Sitting Corpse
Late at night never does anything for anyone’s courage. That’s why it’s no surprise that even with 15-20 years experience, the first mortician on our list was so startled. He was preparing a body late at night to have it ready for a very early showing the next morning. As he turns away from the body to get his tools, everything is just fine.
Out of the corner of his eyes, though, he sees the deceased sit up in bed. Needless to say, the man bolted out of there before he could investigate the situation any closer! Heck, he might have soiled his pants in fear and been running to the washroom. Can you blame him? The poor guy just watched a dead man sit up in bed. That’d be too much for anybody.
14. Death’s Grip
Imagine you’re a humble medical technician. You’re used to seeing dead bodies, as well as the practice of preparing a corpse for tissue recovery. A big part of the tissue recovery preparation is shaving the donor. The legs and the arms, they both had to be shaved before you recovered the tissue. One technician retells an experience with a very freshly deceased body. Rigor mortis can take some time to set in. For this donor, it hadn’t set in yet. The technician, getting ready to shave the donor’s arm, held the donor’s hand to keep the arm steady. The donor’s fingers slowly curled around the technician’s hand. Sure, it was only rigor mortis, that doesn’t make it any less creepy for the poor technician. A dead body’s final attempt at holding a hand.
13. The Moans Of The Dead
What’s more haunting than a dark night and a howling wind? How about blood-curdling screams? Unexpected noises can be terrifying, especially when they’re coming from something that shouldn’t be making noise at all, like a dead body.
You should know that it’s possible for the deceased to still have air in their lungs. Anything that causes minor compression will force some air up and out of the throat, which sends it through the vocal cords. When air passes the vocal cords, you’re going to hear some noise. Any time you’re moving a corpse and it moans and groans and gurgles, don’t fret. The body is very dead. It’s just the escaping air. A howling wind, originating in the deceased’s stomach.
12. Body Springs A Leak
One funeral parlor employee was bogged down with some trouble on a particularly large female corpse. As everyone knows, size can sometimes be a factor. This was definitely one of those cases. Her substantial size made her quite fragile in her post-mortem state. This meant that, despite the careful attention of the funeral parlor employees, there were some snafus when prepping her corpse for the funeral taking place the very next day. What could go wrong, you ask?
Well, she sprung a leak. More than one leak, really. According to the parlor worker, she was leaking everywhere. Luckily for everyone involved, the parlor employees knew a few tricks. They wrapped her in plastic trash bags underneath her clothes. This kept her clothes and the coffin dry and made sure the only thing that would leak on the day of the funeral were the eyes of friends and family.
11. Corpse Shivers
Morticians, scientists, doctors, nurses, these professions probably know what to expect around dead bodies. That doesn’t mean weird things can’t happen every once in awhile. One particularly spooky case involved some paperwork. Ok, that isn’t the spooky part, even though paperwork likely fills most of us with dread. What’s spooky is that a mortician or medical examiner was filling out some of this paperwork over a dead body. Of course, it was a late night for our dear medical examiner friend. Inexplicably, the corpse shuddered. Now this medical examiner has likely seen many things in the course of that career. The examiner claims never to have seen anything like that before or since. Yes, it’s likely gas or some other bodily phenomenon. That doesn’t make it any less creepy, and it doesn’t make us want to work late at night filing paperwork, especially when corpses are involved.
10. Flickering Lights
There are several reported cases surrounding lights. A common one is that the lights at the funeral home flicker when a new dead body is going in. A nonbeliever might attribute the occurrence to electricity problems. A sane person would rightly attribute the occurrence to demons, spirits, and machinations of a much more sinister kind. Yes, only a crazy person would blame the electricity. A nurse says the one time she ever sees the lights flicker is when a new body is brought down to the morgue. The rest of the time, she says, the lights are fine.
The other experience happened to a person late at night in the chapel. The person had turned all of the chapel lights off. This took place after two years of working at this location, with no activity whatsoever to report. When our brave hero went back to check the casket door, guess what turned back on. That’s right, the lights. And guess who was nowhere near the switch. That’s right. Light is all we have to defend against the darkness and if the dead can control our light….Too spooky to think about.
9. Funeral Doves Lead To Trouble
What would you expect to find in a rural cemetery? Pretend it isn’t nighttime and there aren’t zombies crawling out from underneath their respective tombstones. Pretend it’s daytime. What could you expect to find in a rural cemetery? Probably a vibrant ecosystem. Wildlife don’t fear the dead like us soft humans. So when the funeral director/embalmer tells you not to do something at your funeral ceremony in a rural cemetery, you should really just not do it. Or at least consider why the director might be telling you to stop. In the case of one family, they wanted to release some doves as part of the send-off ceremony. Sort of a nice sentiment. They were told not to do it, but they did it anyway. The result? Hawk attack. This keen-eyed raptor had probably been eyeing up those doves all morning, waiting for the show. As soon as the doves were released, a hawk flew in and literally ripped a dove to pieces. In short, listen to the funeral director.
8. Beware The Eye
A glass eye can have a real impact on your confidence levels. Having a glass eye might mean you’re always trying to hide it, always wearing your hair in front of that eye. It could mean not making eye contact with people, or always staring down at your feet. One woman decided to display her eye like a badge of honor. Whether it was driven by a lifelong love of her eye or some other unusual reason, this elderly woman was adamant. She wanted her eyelid wide open to display her glass eye during the service. For the part-time funeral director’s assistant, talk about a serious fright. The director’s assistant saw her in her casket, eye wide open and glaring. You can imagine that was enough to scare the employee something fierce.
7. Man’s Best Friend
There is almost nothing a dog wouldn’t do for his master, and the master wouldn’t do for his dog. Dogs are man’s best friend, after all, and so that comes with a certain level of love and obligation. In one particular case, a man wanted to be buried with his dog. Thing is, humans live longer than dogs. What to do?
Well, the Egyptians had it right with embalming as that’s still one of the best ways to keep a corpse from going bad/turning sour/rotting and decaying. One day a woman who worked at a funeral home was tasked with retrieving some old records from the attic. While she’s up there, she comes across a baby coffin. That’s not so creepy for a funeral home, but it’s still kind of creepy. She tries to move it with her foot and guess what, it’s not empty. Upon immediately returning back downstairs to ask the director about it, she finds out it’s an embalmed dog. The client wouldn’t take different life spans as an excuse for not being buried with his dog. So the embalmed dog is kept in the attic until the client retires from this world. We guess that’s a good place for it…
Parents are always facing the dilemma of having to love their children equally. Easier said than done, we’re sure. In one particularly bizarre case, there was a twin who had drowned. At this funeral, the other twin is, of course, present. In an interesting move by the parents, the kids were dressed in exactly the same outfits. So you have the living twin wearing what he was wearing, and then you have the deceased twin wearing the exact same thing. Wouldn’t you want things to be a little different? Wouldn’t you want to know without a doubt that the deceased son was staying in the coffin? Not walking around as a ghost?
Then there’s a case where a twin had died, but not everyone at the funeral knew he was a twin. So his twin brother shows up (albeit dressed differently, thank the good lord) and it was very clear who didn’t know the deceased had a twin.
5. Clown Casket
Clowns of a feather bury together. You might’ve heard whisperings about the close-knit clown communities. The clown cults. Have you ever been to the funeral of a clown? Talk about taking your job seriously. In one instance, the deceased clown insisted on being buried in full clown makeup and wearing a full clown costume. All the family and friends that arrived had one single teardrop painted near their eye, in true clown fashion. The most curious request came from the family, hoping that the funeral directors would go full clown to honor the deceased’s life. And so they did. The family supplied the makeup and the costumes, and it was a circus at a funeral.
4. The Eyeless Man
Hard to tell if this poor chap got pranked or if it was an innocent mistake on all parts. Either way, a memory is likely scarred. When you’re embalming someone, there’s a little bit of clean up that takes place to make sure everything is spick and span. No corner of the body is left untouched. The lips, the nose, the ears, and let’s not forget the eyes! So one technician was tasked with cleaning a certain gentleman. He finally gets to the eyes and pulls up the lids.
3. A Mother’s Love
If we thought dog’s love for man ran deep, we should reconsider. Nothing goes deeper than a mother’s love. Unfortunately, sometimes a mother’s love runs way too deep. A funeral director tells the story of a deceased toddler being mourned by two separated parents. The mother seemed to be going a little overboard in the theatrics of her grieving. At one point, when no one was looking, she managed to nab the dead toddler and obscure him using her coat. She started racing to her car with her dead son hidden under her jacket. Luckily she was stopped by the other funeral director, who managed to retrieve the kid from the crazy mother. It turned out later that physical abuse inflicted by the mother on the son might have caused the death.
2. The Face Puzzle
Guns can be lethal, especially when you accidentally discharge the weapon into your head. Such was the case for a poor boy of just 20 years old. A bullet entering the skull at that range isn’t going to be clean, and this case was no exception. Still, the mother wouldn’t be talked out of an open-casket funeral, claiming she needed to see her son one last time. One very committed funeral director decides to rebuild the face of this boy for the mother. By all accounts, it was an incredible reconstruction. Until the visitation, of course. Part of the skull became unstuck and sunk back into the boy’s head, leaving a crater-like depression in his face, which one unfortunate attendee witnessed and could never unsee. Luckily the face was fixed for the actual ceremony and the rest of the funeral went nicely.
1. An Extra Long Bath
These are some extreme cases of dead and forgotten. None of them are pleasant. One man was discovered dead in his garage in the summer. This was three weeks after he had initially died. The description of his corpse is disgusting. Bugs all over him, skin that is green and black in coloration, and flesh that slides right off the bone, like meat in a crockpot. Some things can’t be buried, and in this case, he was cremated.
Then there’s the case of a person who died alone in the bathtub, without turning the water off. Two weeks later this person was discovered. Think of how pruney you get after a five-minute soak…Now think about staying in there for 20,155 more minutes… Another crockpot situation, your skin is sloughing off.
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