According to the '90s classic "My Girl" or HBO's Six Feet Under, those who handle the bodies of the recently deceased seem to work with the dead like it's no big deal.
Talk to actual morticians and funeral home employees, and it's not much different, actually; some things that would traumatize the majority of us are simply shrugged off - even if there's no explanation for the innumerable creepy things that happen when you're alone in a quiet room with a dead person.
Let's take a virtual dive into some surprising morgue stories as funeral home employees and all who work with the dead reveal what happens behind the scenes.
Some Beguile Morticians By Their Lashes
"One instance spooked me bad. My coworker and I were given notice to move a body out and clean the room for its next occupant. We got up there, got the woman's body out of the bed and on to a gurney, and went around making sure the various apparati around the bed was dormant (nurses job, but we were told to always check.) I go stand at the foot of the gurney to direct it when my coworker squeaks "... Dude ... She's ... awake ..."
Lady was blinking, rapidly, over freaky, glassed over, dead eyes. Anyone who has seen a dead person's eyes after death knows what I'm talking about - there is clearly no life left in the body. We both freaked the fuck out and screamed for the nurses, who came running. They called code whatever, thinking she might be waking up ... My coworker and I just backed up, flattened ourselves against the windows, and watched the ruckus.
Woman was stone dead, no breathing, no heartbeat, no brain activity, nada. None of the nurses or the doctor could or would tell us why the woman was blinking several hours post mortem."
The Girl Who Wasn't There
"My first experience at work was when I first started my embalming career. I worked at an independent mortuary service. I had just started my shift and was using a restroom in the back. When I came out, I heard what sounded like a girl sobbing and the sound of feet shuffling around on the floor. The floor was kinda gravely and had a distinct sound if you scooted your feet on it. The sound was coming from around a corner that led into a small room where we would store embalmed bodies ready to be delivered to their respective funeral home. I figured someone was upset and crying. So I kinda snuck in, still hearing the sobbing. When I peaked around the corner, the room was empty. No living person in there. I noticed that there was only one body in there as well. A young girl. She shot herself in the side of the head. I wasn't scared per se, but I'm pretty sure you could audibly hear my heart beat."
Ever Think About The Smell In A Crematorium?
Contrary to popular belief, the dead aren't basted in rosemary honey-butter and slid into a giant Kenmore if they've chosen to be cremated. (Trust me, I was disappointed to learn that, too.) But no: Once the coroners, medical examiners, and morticians are done with their extensive dead-stuff checklists, you're rolled up in a plastic sleeve like a giant newspaper, and put into a long, carboard box. Your toe-tag is removed and hung on a hook on the outside of the oven they're about to place you in.
(There are usually a few ovens, so they want to make sure your ashes aren't sent to the wrong family.) One Reddit mortician did, however, confess: "There is some co-mingling involved, although very minimal. It is unavoidable, you can't get every single grain out. As long as you sweep it properly after each person, it is very minimal."
At any rate, the ovens are then cranked to either 1400 or 1800 degrees and the odors begin to swirl.
"Obese people being cremated smell like bacon. Skinny people being cremated smell like fireworks."
The Odor Of The Dead Can Be Mouthwatering
"I worked security at a hospital and part of my job was dealing with the morgue. One time I just came on shift and had to go release a body to a funeral home. I walked in and I seriously thought someone had been eating bbq in the morgue. I asked if a particular Dr. was back (previously we had to get the administration involved in telling her she couldn't eat while doing autopsies or store her groceries in the walk in cooler with the bodies). The other guy with me said, "No. Why?" I said because it smells like bbq. He was just like, 'Oh nope. That's the five kids from the house fire.' I felt like crap the rest of the day."