Graveyard Shift
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16 Horrifying, True Tales Of People Who Woke Up In A Morgue

Updated September 23, 2021 413.2k views16 items

Waking up in a morgue - it sounds like something straight out of a horror movie, doesn't it? Strangely even in this day and age, it's more common than you might think. Why does this happen? How can doctors not realize a "dead" body is actually a living person?

Doctors are people, and they aren’t perfect. When doctors think someone has died, they check the patient’s pupils, breathing, heartbeat, and pulse. Sometimes, patients may have signs of life that are just too faint to be detected. Another explanation is Lazarus Syndrome - when a person who can’t be brought back to life suddenly regains circulation. No one knows why - or how - this rare situation occurs.

Hospitals and morgues are creepy places where strange and unexplained things sometimes happen. Patients coming back from the dead is definitely one of the strangest.  

For the people who were declared dead - and then not - the experience can be confusing and frightening. Morgues aren’t meant for living people. People experiencing this real-life nightmare often wake up surrounded by corpses or locked in their own tiny metal drawers. They may feel as if they’ve been buried alive.

The feeling is similar to someone who is conscious but immobile during surgery. You’re lying there helpless at the mercy of medical staff, hoping they’ll realize what’s going on and save you. 

These unbelievable stories of real people who woke up in the morgue are sure to leave you hoping it never happens to you. 

  • A Man Started Moving Around In His Body Bag

    Video: YouTube

    Think being mistaken for dead can’t happen in the United States? Think again. In 2014, Walter Williams, a farmer from Holmes County, MS, was pronounced dead. The next day, morgue workers saw his body bag moving - Williams was kicking it from the inside.

    The 76-year-old man was taken to a hospital and released to his shocked family a few days later. He lived for  two more weeks before actually dying of natural causes.

    One possible theory for the incident is that William’s defibrillator restarted his heart while he was in the body bag.

  • A Dead Russian Man Shocked His Friends By Coming Back To Party

    Photo: Pulux11 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    In 2015, an unidentified Russian man got so drunk he passed out - and everyone thought he was dead. His friends called an ambulance. First responders also thought he was dead and took him to the morgue where he was placed in the freezer.

    The man woke up in the middle of the night, shocked to be in a room with dead bodies. He started pounding on the doors and got the attention of a guard.

    After doctors checked him over, his first stop was back to his friend’s house. There, his buddies were still drinking and mourning him. One of his friends was so shocked at seeing him that he fainted. The mourning party quickly turned into a celebration.

  • A Daughter Identifying Her Mother's Dead Body Discovered She Was Actually Alive

    Photo: Stanley Fox / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 2011, Rosa Celestrino de Assis was taken to the hospital for pneumonia. The 60-year-old Brazilian woman had no vital signs, so the doctor pronounced her dead.

    Medical personnel put her body into a plastic body bag and took it to the morgue refrigerator. Two hours later, her daughter came to identify the body. As she was giving her mother a hug for what she thought was the last time, she realized her mother was breathing.

    "I screamed out - my mom is alive!” her daughter said. “And they all looked at me like I was crazy."

    The doctor that pronounced her dead has resigned, and a nurse working under him was fired.

  • A Woman With Cataplexy Woke Up In A Morgue Three Times

    June Burchell should be quite familiar with the inside of a morgue - she’s woken up there three times. Burchell suffers from a condition called cataplexy, which affects a small percentage of people with narcolepsy. This condition causes her to become paralyzed but conscious. Strong emotions often bring on episodes.

    The first time this happened to her she was a teenager. She didn’t appear to show any signs of life, and doctors pronounced her dead. They put her in the morgue, surrounding her with dead bodies. She could move and speak again hours later.

    Burchell said she fears being buried alive more than she fears death. She has one of the world’s worst cases of cataplexy. Burchell shared her story on the documentary television series My Shocking Story.