1. After they X-rayed the body, they found a tube of lipstick in her brain. Cause of death was putting on makeup while driving.
“Transported a 60-year-old woman to the morgue after a severe car accident. She had run into a large tree head-on 75 MPH. Face was mashed in completely. After they X-rayed the body, they found a tube of lipstick in her brain. Cause of death was putting on makeup while driving, i.e., lipstick!”
2. Had a corpse sit up on one of the gurneys while mid-conversation. I go pale.
“Was an EMT that got access to bunch of places and experiences ’cause I am me. Hanging out in the morgue picking the brain of the guy on shift during graveyard at Martin Luther. Had a corpse sit up on one of the gurneys while mid-conversation. I go pale. He just looks at me and says ‘they do that sometimes.’”
3. I still get the willies thinking about all those bugs pouring out, running around on the floor, flying around the room.
“On a pathology rotation at the county medical examiner’s office in medical school. This included some site visits. We got called to a house that had been reported to have a horrible smell coming from inside. Cops had found the owner who had died three weeks prior, in the middle of summer. This person was a hoarder, house was FULL of old cans of cat food, newspapers going back decades, and VHS porn tapes.
Did the autopsy that afternoon in a special containment room. Body was absolutely full of all manners of insect life. Maggots, beetles, flies, roaches, everything. The smell was horrendous. I still get the willies thinking about all those bugs pouring out, running around on the floor, flying around the room, etc.”
4. I kept hearing what sounded like breathing…fresh body brought in and was releasing gas.
“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. Would not recommend. On my first night shift I thought staff were fucking with me because I kept hearing what sounded like breathing…fresh body 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 fuck with you.
Bizarre one was piecing a guy back together after he committed suicide by gunshot to the face. Family wanted an open casket. Had to try our best then ask one family member in to see if they still wanted open casket because we just didn’t feel like it was right. Dad came 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, family changes their mind and has open casket anyway… found out rest of family didn’t know he shot himself in the face. 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, though.”
5. Dead lady grabs the guy’s wrist….He lets out this scream and bolts for the door.
“Not a mortician, this comes from my mother back when she was a teenager. Guy she knows takes a job with the local funeral home. He works the graveyard shift, all was well for the first few months. Dude is often weirded-out at work, 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, guy is freaking out, says he has a bad feeling. Later in the evening, mortician has to step out for a bit, leaving 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, goes about his business. He hears it again, little louder than last time, it is late, he is alone, he is just hearing things, probably just the pipes settling, the plumbing is old after all. 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 though was the mortician was fucking with him, he has been shaken all evening and this asshole is pranking him. He marches over, very funny you dick, yanks back the sheet covering the dead lady expecting to find the mortician somewhere around her….Dead lady grabs the guy’s wrist….He lets out this scream and bolts for the door. Forgets his car, runs all the way home.
Turns out, old lady wasn’t dead, hospital got it wrong (hooray 1950s medicine). 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 ever-loving hell out of the assistant. He quit the next day, said he would never set foot there ever again.”
6. A tapping noise started coming from him…it was a crab that had made itself at home inside him and when it got cold he wanted out.
“Uncomfortable? Being trapped in the morgue alone during a hurricane, our morgue was basically in a basement-type situation and the hospital was near a main waterway that flooded….I had to move all the bodies to the highest cabinets, pray the generators would keep everyone cold and was standing on my desk for about two hours when someone finally came for me.
Bizarre would be drowned guy who was DOA and once locked up in the cabinet a tapping noise started coming from him…it was a crab that had made itself at home inside him and when it got cold he wanted out.
Creepy was when we got some people who were doing bath salts and had eaten other people…they looked crazy even in death.”
7. When they tried to pick her up she started coming apart like an overly tender turkey.
“Lady I work with used to pick up the bodies for the coroner. One time they had to collect a woman that was lying in a very hot attic apartment for a couple months. All her liquids ran out onto the floor, and dried and when they tried to pick her up she started coming apart like an overly tender turkey. Her coworker sent her to the van to get more bags and when she got back he had finished bagging the lady. Classy. Changed how I think about turkey.”
8. The gun inside her vagina started firing during cremation.
“We picked up a suicide on a major holiday—Thanksgiving or Christmas, I can’t remember. Took her back to the funeral home. Undressed her and had to wait for medical examiner. Family decides to cremate. We had dressed her for a viewing, everything was normal. Later that day she was ready to be cremated. I put her in, started the machine, and went back inside. I had to embalm someone else. About an hour in I heard like five loud pops. First thought was a pacemaker, brain stimulator, something I had missed. I let it finish, swept it into the tray. And a fucking small hand gun came out. Now I had seen all of her….Seriously where did she have that at? The only spot is inside her vagina. The question is why. It’s been 10 plus years and I’m still WTF.”
9. The most odious cadaver was the partial skeletal remains of an eight-month-pregnant mother who gave life to a plethora of maggots, bot flies, and moth larvae were consuming her hair like some monstrous funeral shroud.
“I work in forensics, specifically as an entomologist; I extract insects from decomposing bodies to estimate the time of death or supplement existing evidence. It’s as a grotesque an occupation as you can imagine; the most odious cadaver was the partial skeletal remains of an eight-month-pregnant mother who gave life to a plethora of maggots, bot flies, and moth larvae were consuming her hair like some monstrous funeral shroud. The tiny bones of the baby were disintegrating under the unrelenting feasting of ham beetles, as its flesh was too dry for maggots to find purchase; they preferred the malleable flesh of the mother’s face and breasts.
Observing the corpse, her exposed womb appeared to be giving birth. Many adult beetles were scuttling over her pubic bone and into the cradle of her pelvis. She was supine, her limbs were not splayed in distress, but unfortunately her expression was indiscernible due to the divots of bot flies imbued in the flesh of her cheeks.
Then I began my extraction. It was a drug-induced suicide which encapsulated the tranquility of her and her child’s death.”
10. It was the most incredible and shocking and awful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
“I had never been in the room with death until my infant daughter passed away last weekend (congenital brain issue, expected death at home). She died quite suddenly and I’d always heard that bodies can move and breathe after death. I was holding her, she had stopped breathing, and she had no heartbeat (we had a stethoscope handy because she was on a feeding tube and we had to check placement). Suddenly she started gasping. She started doing agonal breathing, a completely last-ditch brain stem reflex to revive herself. I thought it was just gas at first. Then she kept doing it. After about five minutes of being dead and blue and without breathing or heartbeat, she brought herself back completely. Pinked right up, normal heart rate. It was the most incredible and shocking and awful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
I wish someone had warned me this was possible. When the hospice nurse got there, she said that dying infants often ‘practice death’ and die several times. Our daughter incurred some brain damage from this, not that it was an issue in our case. She ended up dying and reviving herself with agonal breathing one more time before she finally passed. The process took eight hours. Now that I have seen someone die and come back, I fully understand why people created zombie mythology and otherwise invented paranormal explanations for these things. I saw this with my own eyes and still don’t believe it.”
11. There he was, face completely bashed in by a rock.
“Heard on the news a friend from my youth had been killed. I was terribly sad for him, he never could escape his demons and it led him down some terrible paths. Came into work a few nights later and there he was, face completely bashed in by a rock. This wasn’t the first time someone I knew ended up in our morgue, but certainly the saddest.”
12. The girl unfortunately froze to death in the carriage in an upright, seated position.
“A writing professor of mine used to work in small-town journalism and decided to interview some folks from the local retirement home to get a close-up view of his town’s history. One of his interviews was an ancient, retired mortician who told him a rather interesting story.
Shortly before 1920, two teens were going to a school dance in a blizzard. The carriage they had taken got stranded and the boy went for help. The girl unfortunately froze to death in the carriage in an upright, seated position. Apparently the mortician had to sit her in a rocking chair in front of the fire to thaw her out before he could go about his usual business.”
13. Let’s not forget the guy who was just a pile of bones, hair, and leathery tissue paired with a bucket of goo.
“I work with the dead (procure eyes and corneas for transplant). While I was working on one guy at the medical examiner’s office, they brought in another guy whose cats had eaten his face clean. Just his face, nothing else. It was a sort of decaying (but still somewhat normal looking) dude, with a bright, Halloween-looking skull picked clean.
Lots of murder victims, gunshots, car accidents, even one train accident. A guy who hanged himself in front of his kids with a dog leash, which was still in the bag with his body. High-caliber self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face, with teeth and jaw and bits everywhere and a bunch of gauze stuffed into the remaining hole. Let’s not forget the guy in the decomp room who was just a pile of bones, hair, and leathery tissue paired with a bucket of goo.
Crazy stuff! But never a dull day.”
14. Nothing worse than dead ass.
“Not me, but my best friend works in the death business….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. Third story, narrow halls and no elevators. Anyways, she goes to pick up the body to take back to the funeral home with an assistant. So they get up there and lift this woman who is close to 300 pounds 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 crowd around as they make their way to the stairs. With 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 ass 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 any more. The thing about dead bodies is that gas starts to exit pretty quickly and I’m sure you know where my story is going. The body started letting out farts straight into my friend’s face. Pfffft, Pfft, Pfft, Pfft with every step down they take, and this poor girl has to keep a straight face while getting crop-dusted by a dead lady with her whole family watching.
Tl;dr Nothing worse than dead ass.”
15. My dad goes to pick up the body and it’s human soup.
“My dad is a mortician. We had actually lived above the funeral and my life had been just like 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 gentlemen 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 it’s 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 ever smelt. He got back to the office later that day and his boss told him to throw away his suit and he’d buy him another!”
16. When you’re holding the person’s arm up, digging around near the tendons, sometimes their arm will move. It happens a lot, but I still get momentarily terrified when the person ‘grabs’ me.
“I’m still working on my licenses, so I’m not officially a funeral director and embalmer yet, but I’ve been going to the medical examiner’s office to practice embalming with my school for several months now.
The people we work on down there are not in very good shape, usually dead at least a month before we get to see them. Needless to say, it’s not a one-artery, low formaldehyde job. Each week we raise a minimum of six arteries (both carotids, both femorals, and both axillaries), plus the two radials if there’s some trouble getting fluid distribution to the hands and forearms. To put into perspective, a typical funeral home case would only need one, maybe two arteries depending on the embalmer’s preference.
There aren’t a lot of ‘creepy’ or ‘bizarre’ cases that stick out in my mind, but uncomfortable things definitely come up. Whenever there’s a young person on the table is sad. The degree of decomp can lead to a lot of difficult nights. The smell alone can really get to you.
The thing that always spooks me, though, is when I’m raising an axillary artery. The site that we look for it is the area directly distal (towards fingers, away from body mass) to the armpit. There are a lot of tendons and such in there, as well. When you’re holding the person’s arm up, digging around near the tendons, sometimes their arm will move. It happens a lot, but I still get momentarily terrified when the person ‘grabs’ me.”
17. He apparently felt disconnected, not registering that this body was once a living man and not just something to clean up.
“My brother told me a story of when one of his friends was mortician’s assistant. One time he had to work on a guy who had shot himself in the head with a shotgun. He said the guy kinda looked like Sid from Ice Age. That wasn’t the worst, however. The worst part is how he felt about the whole situation. He apparently felt disconnected, not registering that this body was once a living man and not just something to clean up. My brother said he quit that night.”
18. Imagine 500 pounds of Hamburger Helper with large bits of organ and bone mixed in with a few chunks of leg.
“I worked as an autopsy lab assistant at a local medical examiner’s office on the night shift. This usually meant I was working alone at night between two freezers stocked with the various bits and remains of individuals, unless a doctor needed to do a late night autopsy for religious purposes, or an investigator or police officer needed to finger print a body. We only got those whose cause of death needed to be verified, and usually meant we got the…interesting…cases. Interesting job, so ask away.
The ones that really annoyed or bothered me after a while (annoyance is a part of the detachment and making it just a part of the job, on my end. I’m seeing up to 100 fresh corpses a week) were the individuals that were extremely obese (talking 500 pounds or so).
The one that sticks out is a woman that was 510 pounds, and was hit by a car and ejected at high speeds and then hit by an 18-wheeler. Now v and that was a fun bag to try to prep and X-ray for autopsy.
Having to pull parts of a dude out of a bucket and piece him together like some macabre jigsaw puzzle was a very interesting second day as well.
A suicide via crossbow was pretty cool, as you really don’t see that every day.
The most interesting was a murder via katana. We were all super interested to see what that looked like, and it turns out it was one perfect stroke through ribs into the heart. We joked about a master ninja hunting the city for weeks after. There are much more crazy ones, but it would be way too easy to identify my area from them, and families don’t need that head and heartache.…The worst is always decomposing bodies and water finds. It is the worst smell of the bunch by far, and the spongy, soupy texture bodies get from long times in an aquatic environment is the absolute worst. They tend to burst everywhere when you cut them open too.
It was a sad job most of the time, as we only got those that suffered a violent death that needed investigated. Lots of children and people that were clearly failed by society.”
19. Fat people purge when they die and usually end up with vomit all over their face from the weight on their gut.
“So many. But you get used to it.
Fat people purge when they die and usually end up with vomit all over their face from the weight on their gut. I end up feeling resentful of some very overweight people because I know I will have to pick them up when they die, and there’s a chance it’ll throw out my back.
Babies just look like they’re sleeping. Very peaceful.
Coworker unknowingly picked up his own estranged son who had overdosed in a car.
Picked up a four-year-old boy in Batman pajamas. Won’t ever forget that. That one was the worst….
I’ve noticed an uptick in young teen suicides in the last year. If you have someone in your life who is a young teenager (or anyone really) check in with them. Let them know they’re loved. I’m tired of picking up dead bullied girls.”
20. She was slippery, like her skin was greased. I lost my grip and dropped her and her head smacked into the floor.
“I had a summer job one year when I was at university (nearly forty years ago) as an orderly at the local hospital. I was assigned to the morgue and when a patient died on the ward we would go up and bring the body back down after the nurses had cleaned the person up and family had said their goodbyes, etc. One day we had to get this woman who died during the night. She must have been 420 pounds. Docs decided on an autopsy, so we had to move her from the gurney-type thing to the slab. As I was the young guy, the experienced orderly said that I had to take the head. This woman was gargantuanly fat. She was also slippery, like her skin was greased. I lost my grip and dropped her and her head smacked into the floor. We got her up on the slab and the doc came in and there was blood pooling under her head—the drop had cracked her skull open. He had a look and said that it was a good thing she was dead because that would have killed her.”
21. His autopsy was like opening a disgusting piñata.
“My cousin works for funeral home that embalms the bodies.
1) Body of an Australian heavyweight was brought in, guy was all muscles and was covered in his own waste. He had to go get the body and they came close to him, the body sat straight up, looked around, spoke gibberish and just fell on the floor. The saddest thing about this was that his wife put him in the cellar and chained him to his bed. They found him after there were so many complaints about the smell emanating from their house.
2) A bloater, body of a recent high school graduate. He was found in a shallow part of a river and he was so pale and full of water. His uncle killed him because because the majority of his relatives were jealous that he got into a good college as a teacher’s aide.
This one is about the only client my dad ever had that died while he was on the job, his name was Joe.
Joe loved to eat anything inedible. It was a compulsion, they had pump his stomach so many times because of the amount he would eat. He had his own room and he was not allowed to have anything that he could fit in his mouth.
Joe was dying, so his relatives visited him, the doctor allowed them to give him whatever food he wanted because it wasn’t going to change anything.
His autopsy was like opening a disgusting piñata. He apparently couldn’t poop because he swallowed so many solid objects, some of which were: plastic wrappers, bottle caps, a rubber duck, cotton balls, sponges, Lego pieces, and even doll heads.”
22. The dogs had eaten all of the skin off of her head. They also ate her breasts and the implants from her breasts were on the floor.
“I spent some time picking up bodies for the medical examiner. There are many stories, some of my own and some those who I worked with.
One which is usually popular is that of a woman who died on her own in the reservation town. We arrived and the cop on the scene was quite disgusted with the place. He was looking forward to be deployed back to Afghanistan to get away from this town. The house when we arrived was an older house with several stories. The fence outside had been driven through by a car at some point. It was a night, of course.
We entered the house and it was a complete mess. She was obviously a bit of a hoarder. I’ve seen much worse hoarders in this job, but she was on her way there. There was stuff piled everywhere, you couldn’t tell what the floor was actually covered in because of all the garbage and paper and stuff ground into the floor. Probably hardwood underneath as it felt so much solid, but tough to say for sure.
The second floor was up a spiral staircase. Great. And she was upstairs. Before we went up there the cop told us that the dogs had ‘got her a little bit.’ We worked our way up the spiral staircase to the door that he had indicated she was behind. When we opened the door there was a body sitting in an office chair facing the door. However, it was a skull on top of a body. The dogs had eaten all of the skin off of her head. They also ate her breasts and the implants from her breasts were on the floor. She had several small dogs; they had started eating each other before her. So there was bones from at least one—probably—two dogs scattered around. She had died and was not able to feed the dogs obviously, so they turned on each other and then her.
The guy I was with started freaking out a little bit. It was a fairly disgusting site, well beyond the average call that we went to. You’re trying to figure out how to get her out of the chair. She was decomposed of course, so she was covered in blisters that bodies get covered in as they decompose. We have to gather as much of the body as we can, so he grabbed her implants and what was left of her scalp with the hair attached off the floor. You don’t want to pop those blisters if you can avoid it; they are very putrid when they leak out. In my partner’s state of not knowing what the hell to do with her, he decided that the easiest way to get her out of the chair what’s the kick the chair out from under her. So he did. She came crashing to the floor and the blisters burst. It was now a horrible mess of oozing pus.
We had our portable stretcher as obviously we aren’t going to bring the one with wheels up the spiral staircase. We don’t generally bring that up staircases at all really. We set up the body bag and loaded her in. Of course some of the fluids and whatnot got on the outside of the body bag. We loaded her onto the stretcher and carried her out of the house. She stank up the minivan all the way back to the city. It was winter and quite cold out, but we had to drive with all the windows down to try and survive the putrid odor.”
23. We had to cut a hole in a basement wall to get a large body out.
“It was by birthday last year and I was on call. I get a call at 3:30 AM that we have a residential death; our medical examiner deputy called the funeral home and told is to bring reinforcements. I meet up with a coworker and we get to the house about 30 minutes later.
The M.E. pulls us aside and tells us the guy is in the basement, he’s 6’8” and probably 300 pounds. So there are just 3 employees of the funeral home and our M.E. at the house. By the grace of God we get this guy onto our cot but then we have to get this guy up the flight of stairs. The two older guys go up front and I take the back with my coworker.
When you take a cot up a flight of stairs you don’t really know how hard it is unroll you get both sets of wheels on the stairs. The first four stairs go pretty well, but we know the back wheels are about to go up.
I’ve dealt with large people and stairs before but this was a different demon; there was really only enough room for one person on the stair so I volunteered to try. We made it maybe two stairs before his body shifted on the cot and he started sliding back. We brought him back down and ended up calling the fire department.
The fire department brought 10 guys; we tied off the cot and tried making it up the stairs again, but it just wasn’t going to happen. The fire chief and my funeral home owner told us to wait and went to talk to the family upstairs. After a while the chief came down with a Sawzall and told us that we’re making a door.
We cut a hole in the side of the wall, wheeled him out, and put an end to the longest removal of my career. One of the firefighters was a woodworker and he came back that day and fixed up the wall in the basement. I showed up to the fire station that day with five pizzas and a case of beer.
TLDR; We had to cut a hole in a basement wall to get a large body out. Firefighters are amazing.”
24. When I got back to the crematorium with him I weighed him on the floor scale and he was EXACTLY 666 pounds.
“I’ve been in the body business for five years; I have a lot of fucked-up stories…but ill share this one: I got a call for a pickup at a hospital. The dispatcher said to bring two or three people because he was around 600 pounds. I get there and look at his paperwork and it turns out this guy was only about 20 years old. And the nurse told me something that I’ll never forget: ‘He had no congenital illnesses,’ which means this kid ate so much that he got too fat to move by the time he was 18 and somehow someone was providing enough food for him to get over 600 pounds barely out of puberty. When I got back to the crematorium with him I weighed him on the floor scale and he was EXACTLY 666 pounds. I couldn’t make this shit up.”
25. His face stretched with his splatted skull, making it seem like Looney Tunes.
“I’m a mortician for the Army. While working in the Richmond morgue I saw a guy fresh in who was in a logging accident, tree completely crushed him. What made it so creepy was how far the skin could stretch. His face stretched with his splatted skull, making it seem like Looney Tunes.
The other was just a baby we found. Died from suffocation. I learned that day that all dead babies are treated as homicides. Learning that just gave me the chills and didn’t want to go near the table.”