Being a mortician has to be a pretty bizarre job. I’m sure some people are great at it and totally comfortable with all that it entails, but regularly working with dead bodies has to be unsettling at times.
AskReddit users who work as morticians share the strangest things they’ve found on bodies. DEAD BODIES.
1. The buckle
“My father owns a crematory in Texas, we once cremated a man (with no clothes and not in any container) and along with his ashes came a massive belt buckle. I kid you not, we have no idea how it got in him but it was definitely there. It could have been from someone else, but we never cremate with cloths or in a container, so at least somebody has a belt buckle in them!
And for those curious, burning someone without clothes or not in a container isn’t a big deal. After a while, you become very desensitized to death. You really do get a good grasp on how a person’s body is nothing more than matter after their conscience has moved on. That being said, nobody but us, unrelated crematory operators, see the body at this time.”
2. Pierced junk
For our morgue rotation, I saw a couple of interesting cases. The first guy was an older-middle aged black guy, found in his apartment that was sealed very well. He was NEON GREEN. Not really decomposed but intact and actually green. He had HIV, Hep C and all the comorbidities that come with those.
The pathologist said it was a mixture of all his meds and the environment of the apartment.
The next guy was a suicide who jumped from a bridge, he shattered his legs from the landing in the water. He got caught on a piece of floating debris and half the body was submerged and half above water.
The half above the water was mummified by the sun and the other half a bloated watery mess.
The last guy was brought in as we were cleaning up. Approximately 40-year-old man, morbidly obese still wrapped in his blanket from home. He had an apparent heart attack from all the coke and physical exertion with the woman he hired to sleep with him (who called 911) and then took off after taking all his money.
When they took the blanket off, this guy had THE BIGGEST piercing on his junk that anyone has ever seen. When they opened him up his heart was the size of my head.”
3. A mouse
“The weirdest thing was in a woman’s intestine. A dead mouse. Tiny little thing, too. Obviously, I never got the chance to ask how the mouse got there as this was post-mortem. Definitely unexpected though.
Later someone suggested it might be because of a mental illness. They used to work in a psych ward that had to place a patient on an ‘object restriction’ because she would place anything and everything up her lady bits.
Broken light bulbs, rings, pencil erasers, broken pencils… She always had to have a 1:1 (which means a staff member always had to be within arms reach of her and always have her in their sight) because she was so eager to shove anything she could find up there.
This is not uncommon and is usually a sign of extreme abuse.
Another weird one was 3 golf balls in a man’s stomach. His cause of death was lung cancer. Still trying to figure out how he ate golfballs/how long they were in there considering he was on life support for 2 weeks before he died.”
“A mummified fetus.I was working in Africa and the usually very stoic Congolese surgeons called me into the OR, gagging. The patient was an elderly woman with a protruding abdominal mass.When they opened it, they found that it was a long, long dead mummified fetus which, as a result of an ectopic pregnancy, had somehow managed to both wall off after it died and somehow avoid killing the mother.
Her body had encapsulated the alien tissue and over the years, it had slowly eroded her anterior abdominal wall to the point where it finally caused her to have enough symptoms to get something done about it.
It was horrific and the smell was worse.
Happily, though, the patient survived the procedure and just left the surgical team with a gruesome memory.”
5. Still haunts me…
“He wasn’t quite dead yet, but he would be.
A guy came in for an outpatient MRI of his cervical spine. On the form where it asks if he ever had any metal in his body (specifically asks if he had been injured by a metal object), he selected no.
Same with a verbal questionnaire. Also, we do a keyword search in the patient’s hard chart for the term foreign body in case it’s documented – nothing came up.
He lays down, and I start taking images while talking to him through the speaker.
During one of the image sets, he starts pounding on the inside of the scanner and screaming. Figured he was claustrophobic, so I stop the machine and get him out.
Immediately he jumps up and starts talking nonsense and runs into the wall, screaming he needs to get away from the ‘ocean.’ I call overhead for emergency room staff to come down and security as he’s flailing, continues screaming and running into the wall before we restrained him.
The staff rush down, and he’s talking a mile a minute and explaining how he is inside of the poster of the beach that covers the entire wall in the room he’s in, scared out of his mind and hallucinating.
Security restrains him, and he’s taken down to get an X-ray of his skull. There was a BB in his frontal lobe. It had just enough ferrous metal left in it to travel a few millimeters in his brain due to the magnetic field of the MRI.
In the emergency department he kept trying to escape, and was very fast. While unrestrained he got up (somehow convinced the guard he was ‘better’). Patient bolted out of his room into the main hallway.
A code was called for a lost patient. For over an hour nobody could find him until a nurse looked into a large storage closet. Poor guy was found in a pool of blood.
He crashed into a large mirror that was leaning on the wall, and had severe lacerations of his neck, face and arms. Efforts were made to transfuse him but it was too late.
Still haunts me how a simple BB from 40 years earlier could do that. Discovered his brother accidentally shot him with a toy weapon when they were kids.”
6. A pen
“I work in mortuaries in England. There’s the usual beheadings, train jumpers, and decomps, but as to weird, you don’t get much of interest outside of the occasionally interesting history of death (most are just depressing).
I did once do a post-mortem on an elderly gentleman and while the doctor was dissecting his bladder they found an old felt-tip pen lid (anyone growing up before the millennium will recognize the type I’m talking about, the tops look crenelated like a castle wall).
Not a comfortable item to have inserted up your urethra but apparently at some time in his (hopefully) youth he had done exactly that, maybe he’d put the whole pen up and lost the lid?
Hard to tell for sure.
A friend of mine once did a post-mortem on a 600-year-old knight that was dug up underneath a church. They’d preserved him so well that his clothes, hair, everything was still intact.
He even had some blood left in him when they eviscerated him, crazy really.
I think that once you’ve been doing it for a while your idea of weird changes a bit and it’s hard to pick out what you’d be interested in as it’s all a bit ubiquitous to us.”
“A real grub inside a tooth. An old patient came to us with a longterm and severe pain in her tooth. The doctor extracted the tooth and put it into a tray.
After 1 minute, we saw a grub crawling out from the tooth. This woman had lived with it for at least 6 months. I have no idea how she didn’t know. Even the doctor didn’t know there was a grub in this tooth.
He just diagnosed it as periodontal infection and because the tooth’s mobility was at level 4, he decided to extract it. We just found the grub after extraction.
It surprised everybody. This is a very old patient. She presented the pain as an interrupted pain and she dealt with it by antibiotic and painkillers.
Most of the old people in my country use them for every illness (I am not living in the US, but it is weird even in my country). We think it lived in the periodontal region – which is a tunnel around the tooth and will become larger because of the age and infection.
The egg must have accidentally fallen down there, then hatched into larva and it grew up and ate food debris and necrotic membrane. I can’t stop imagining what it would have happened without tooth extraction.
Maybe it would have become an adult fly… and one day it would fly out from its old nest…”
8. Big balls
“When my mom was a mortician, I would hang out in the mortuary watching TV. Her boss showed me a guy who had retained water and drowned (it’s basically fluid that forgets it needs to be in the blood or cells and goes to hang out in between tissues).
His balls were the size of a grapefruit. Not the most pleasant thing to see at age 15. When you poked him, he moved like a water bed. Her boss said something about the guy having cancer and how his medication caused it.
It was so sad to see. I couldn’t imagine how painful that must have been, too.
We also had a guy that almost exploded. He was in a state of decomposition after being left out in the sun.
Didn’t touch that guy, but lemme be the first to say: the smell of a rotting corpse is TERRIBLE.”
9. Not so vanilla
“I was a mortician for a religious organization, and I have to say that The Adult Toy Conundrum of 2013 was among the more difficult issues I’ve faced in the field.
A decedent arrived in my morgue with a bejeweled adult toy firmly in place within the rectum, which led to a very interesting issue.
If the family had known that the deceased was likely to have had such an item, we’d be in trouble if we didn’t list it amongst personal effects to be returned to the family.
But if they were as vanilla as most of the relevant religious community claimed to be, such an item would probably be considered a slanderous perversion.
Fortunately, my boss was a member of the relevant clergy, so I simply removed the item and popped it into a biohazard bag for him to decide upon. I actually don’t know what decision was reached, and alas, that boss has since shuffled off the mortal coil himself.”
10. Very strange
“I work as an embalmer at a high volume funeral home.
One day I was working on a deceased who had been autopsied (very common, nothing out of the ordinary there) except when I opened up their cranial sutures to remove the skull cap before injection, I noticed something very different than what I’ve seen many times before.
There was a baseball size area behind the ear at the base of the skull that was missing. In place of the missing skull, were pieces of her ribs, they looked to be split in half and wired together and then bolted to her skull to form a shield of ribs.
It was a previous injury, had nothing to do with the cause of death. It looked very old from the scarring and grow over. Apparently, she had previously had some head injury and it’s common for the docs to take some of the skull off to allow the brain to swell without bruising/compressing against the skull.
The skull is usually attached to the ribs to keep it alive. And when the swelling goes down they take the skull back off the ribs and put it back on the head.
What can go wrong is that the skull piece doesn’t attach to the ribs properly and dies.
If that happens they need to find some bone to repair the skull (assuming the brain swelling goes down and the patient recovers well enough). And ribs are pretty useful for that.”