32 Morticians, ER Nurses, And Other People Who Work With The Dead Reveal Their Most Terrifying Experiences On The Job

32 Morticians, ER Nurses, And Other People Who Work With The Dead Reveal Their Most Terrifying Experiences On The Job

WARNING: This post contains graphic content regarding death, dead bodies, and gore. Please proceed with caution. 

I asked BuzzFeed readers who are morticians, ER nurses, or have other jobs that routinely work with the dead to share their wildest, creepiest on-the-job stories. From shocking to straight-up horrifying, here are 32 unbelievable workplace experiences they shared:

Note: Submissions have also been pulled from this similar thread.

1."I was 16 and working at a nursing home as an aide. On my third day, a woman died peacefully after being in a coma for a week. We were understaffed, so I went to do postmortem care (removing jewelry, changing her into a clean medical gown, etc.). I had never seen a dead body up close before. I rolled her to the side to pull the sheet out from under her and accidentally let her thump heavily onto her back. She let out a long 'uuuuuuuuuhhhhhgh.' I booked it out of there and ran to the seasoned nurse, sobbing. She went in and double-checked that the lady was dead and very kindly explained that it was normal for recently dead folks to make noises like that."


2."A woman in our nursing home was dead. She wasn't breathing, but her heart was still beating because she had an implanted heart monitor. They couldn't pronounce her dead, because of the beating heart. She had 'died' at the beginning of my shift, but her heart was still beating at the end of my shift. I don't know how they finally resolved the issue, but it was kind of creepy to hear the heartbeat and obsrve no respirations taking place."


3."I was working the night shift at my first nursing job. One of our patients was in end-stage liver disease from alcoholism and was expected to die any day. We checked on him that night, and he had no vital signs, so we called the on-call resident and intern to pronounce him dead. They did so, and we wrapped him and put him on a gurney until the nursing supervisor could take him down to the morgue. Then, we went about our other tasks for the night. Soon after, I heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the exam room where the gurney was. I ran in and saw the wrapped corpse sitting up, and the LVN (licensed vocational nurse) I worked with was standing there white as a sheet and pointing at him, unable to speak. We unwrapped him and found him very much alive. We called the doctors, who reversed his death and put him back to bed. He did truly die a few nights later, and this time, the intern was tasked with listening to his heart for 30 minutes straight to make sure."

A woman sits on a couch, covering her mouth with her hand, wearing a plain T-shirt with a bracelet and tattoo visible on her arm



4."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. It was on the third story of a building that had narrow halls and no elevators. Anyways, she went to pick up the body to take back to the funeral home with an assistant. They got up there and lifted this woman, who was close to 300lbs, onto the gurney and began their journey down to the van. Mind you, the whole family was there and pretty much in hysterics. They crowded around as my friend and her assistant made their way down the stairs with the body."

"With the family watching, they made it about halfway down the first flight of stairs before the body started to slide. There was no way to reposition, so my friend — who was at the foot of the gurney — was now about ass-level to the freshly deceased. Trying to make the best of the situation, they continue their way down and try not to shift the body anymore. The thing about dead bodies is that gas starts to exit pretty quickly, and I’m sure you know where the 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. This poor girl had to keep a straight face while getting crop dusted by a dead lady with her whole family watching."


5."This is a friend of a friend's story. She (a mortician) met some guy at the bar. They hit it off, and she gave him her number. Within a couple of days, she found out that the guy died in a car accident because his body had ended up at her place of work. Before the funeral service, she received several calls from an unknown number. Whenever she picked up, there was no response. Eventually, she got the eerie hunch that it may be ~him~ and proceeded to address him by name, telling him to pass in peace and stop calling. It worked."


6."This is my mother's story from back when she was a teenager. A guy she knew took a job at the local funeral home. He worked the graveyard shift, and all was well for the first few months. Dude was often weirded out at work, claiming that the building was haunted. One day, they got a call from the hospital saying that they had a lady there ready for pickup. They picked her up, and the guy was freaking out, saying he had a bad feeling. Later in the evening, the mortician had to step out for a bit, leaving the guy there alone with the dead lady."

"He went about his work, still a little freaked out. Suddenly, he heard this low, soft moan. He swore it was just his mind playing tricks on him and went about his business. He heard it again, a little louder than last time. It was late; he was alone, and he was trying to convince himself that he was just hearing things, probably the pipes settling.

A short time passed, and it got louder. At this point, he was sure he wasn't just imagining things anymore: he knew he heard the dead lady moan. His first thought was that the mortician was fucking with him. He had been shaken all evening, and this asshole was pranking him. He marched over and yanked back the sheet covering the dead lady, expecting to find the mortician somewhere around her. The dead lady grabbed the guy's wrist. He let out this scream, bolted for the door, and ran all the way home.

Turns out, the lady wasn't dead. The 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 everloving hell out of the assistant. The guy quit the next day and said he would never set foot there ever again."


A hospital morgue room with steel tables, a body covered with a white sheet, and medical equipment on wheeled carts
Team Static / Getty Images/fStop

7."My dad is a mortician. Growing up, we lived above the funeral home. My life was just like the movie My Girl. Dad 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 gentleman 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 before someone found him. My dad went to pick up the body, and he was essentially 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, promising he’d buy him another!"


8."About seven years ago, my friend took a gig as a custodian at a funeral home. The job description itself sounded great from what he told me. It was the graveyard shift and not full-time, but the pay was good. The funeral home was pretty small, consisting of a small-to-medium-sized chapel, an extension on the side room to seat more people, and then a hall with bathrooms and a few offices. Next to the funeral home was a separate garage-looking building where the mortician would take care of his business. My friend only did this job for six days before he quit."

"Here's how he described it to me. The first few days went okay. He was nervous about working there at night but was able to brave it out. On his fourth day, he finished cleaning the main building and went to quickly check the second building (the mortuary). From how he explained it to me, he actually didn't really need to clean in there so much as do a quick walk-through.

He went in, quickly looked around, and started to leave. Then, at the last moment, he heard something drop and hit the ground. He stopped and stared back for a moment and decided, 'Fuck it, I don't care.'

This is where shit got weird. He walked back inside the main building to put away supplies, and he swore he had seen what appeared to be a person sitting in one of the pews. He got up and walked away. He only saw it from the corner of his eye, but it was enough to stun him in fear.

He took a moment to gather himself, then walked out and locked everything up for the night. Just at that last moment, he heard a loud bang, like a door slamming. He bolted to his car and sped home. The following days didn't have anything drastic like that, but that single event was enough for him to know the job wasn't for him."


9."I was ready to embalm a lady who just arrived and was pronounced dead within the past hour. It is best to embalm as soon as possible to death for the best results. As I opened her Carotid artery, blood began to squirt out like her heart was beating. I asked my very experienced boss if he had ever seen that before, and he hadn't. So, I asked if he thought she was still alive. At that moment, the blood made one last big gush and stopped. 'She's not anymore,' he said as he left."


10."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. He was a sort of decaying (but still somewhat normal looking) dude, with a bright, Halloween-looking skull picked clean."

A cat sits next to a pet food dish, licking its lips in a kitchen with white cabinets in the background

11."There was a lady who had passed at our mortuary. She was in the cooler, and it had not been long since she'd died. I got her out of the cooler and was rolling her towards our elevator, which had a giant rope and was on a huge gear. To use it, you would pull the rope up to release the brake and then yank the rope down to set the brake. So, as I was rolling this lady onto this elevator platform (which moves when you get onto it), I said, 'Lady, you stink…' Suddenly, this metal table the deceased was on flipped into the air — like, literally off the ground — and she fell headfirst down into a crevice on this wiggling platform."

"My co-worker opened the elevator doors from the floor above, leaned down, and asked if everything was OK. She ran down the stairs, looked into the platform elevator, and was shocked. I said I didn’t want to talk about it, and all I could think was that I hoped her head was OK because we had a quick viewing for a friend before the main viewing in an hour. I was so thankful when we got her back onto the metal table and saw that her face was spotless. The viewing went off without a hitch.

The next day, I was back at work and afraid to go downstairs past the bottom step. I said, 'I am sorry I said you stunk, but you did. I wasn’t expecting it because you just died.' I realized that the apology still mentioned her slight odor, so I apologized profusely again. Later, I was in the basement with my co-worker, past the cooler where she was residing. I was restocking body bags for our removal van, and suddenly, I felt a hand on the back of my head. It slammed my forehead straight into the shelf base in front of me! My co-worker said, 'Why did you do that?' and I said, 'I didn’t!' I took off running out of there so fast I was up the staircase, past the laboratory, and in the chapel on the top floor before you could say 'Lady you stink…'"


12."I heard on the news that 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. I came into work a few nights later, and there he was, with his face completely bashed in by a rock. This wasn't the first time someone I knew ended up in our morgue, but it was certainly the saddest."


13."This happened when I was a kid in the late 1940s in Connecticut. Back then, they didn’t bury bodies in the winter, as there was no such thing as hydraulic backhoes. Graves were dug by pick and shovel, and if the ground was too frozen to dig a grave, the bodies were stored in a vault or a stone shed. The cemetery near my house employed a night watchman to make sure body snatchers and grave robbers didn’t steal the corpses in the meantime. Well, one day, the cemetery manager came to inspect the facility and noticed something disturbing. Two of the recently deceased had bruises on their faces. When he asked the night watch what had happened, he found out why."

"Apparently, the night watchman got tired of sitting there all night with nothing to do except drink. He decided to invite a couple of corpses to join him at the facility's small table and pretend the three of them were playing poker. He propped them up at the table and dealt the cards. It seemed like all went well for the first few nights.

The watchman admitted that he probably drank too much, but he never fell asleep or passed out while on duty. When asked again about the bruises, he indignantly confessed that he'd slapped the corpses across their faces.When asked why he did that, he replied, 'Because they cheated!' He kept his job because no one else wanted it, but he promised not to punish the dead men for cheating at cards again."


Moira Rose from Schitt's Creek is wearing a dramatic hat with feathers and dark, elegant clothing. She appears to be surprised or shocked. CBC, #SchittsCreek

14."My Dad was doing some business on the other side of the state, pretty close to where his friend who was a mortician (we'll call him Mr. Mort) lived. Mr. Mort invited him for a coffee but said, 'Hey, while you're here, can you help me with a particularly heavy one?' meaning a larger body needed to be cremated. My Dad was in prime shape and said sure."

"There was a 350-400 pound (25-28 stone) lady that needed to be moved from a gurney to the conveyor belt contraption, to be rolled into the crematorium furnace. Normally, the bodies were placed into some kind of cardboard coffin, but she was too large to fit, so she had to go in wearing a hospital gown. After some planning and effort, they successfully moved her over to the belt, pushed her into the furnace, and turned it on.

The crematorium was nearly automated. Basically, all he had to do was push a button, and it did everything it needed to do to properly turn whatever was inside to ash. So, my Dad and Mr. Mort set it and walked down the street for a coffee. About 20 minutes later, they saw a firetruck go by but thought nothing of it. Then another one went by. This was a small town in western South Dakota, so there weren't many firetrucks. They walked outside and saw flames coming from the crematorium, some oil trickling out from the building, and smelled burnt ham.

What happened: the lady was too large for the machine. There wasn't enough space around her body in the furnace to generate the heat necessary to properly turn her to ash. There was enough heat to melt her skin, though, and turn her fat reserves into hot oil, which leaked out of the crematorium. The oil set the building on fire (thankfully, it was in a separate garage, so the entire mortuary didn't go up in flames), and flaming oil started to flow down the driveway and down the street.

The first fire engine was parked too close to the fire, and the hot oil flowed past the tires on one corner, melting and popping them. So they just had a bit of pandemonium of firefighters spraying the flames, and others jumping into the two firetrucks to move them away ASAP."


15."When my mom was in nursing school a long time ago, she had to transport a body down to the morgue in the basement. Beneath the hospital, they had these long, dark tunnels leading from one building to another. It was late at night, so she asked a security guard to walk with her. He only walked with her to the beginning of the morgue tunnel and said, 'Like hell, if I'm going down there, it's creepy as hell, like the devil's waiting for you.' So there she was, barely 24, wheeling a body down a very long and dimly lit tunnel in the middle of the night. The only sound was the rattle of the wheels and cart. The single lightbulbs on the ceiling were few and far between, so there were a lot of shadows and creepy, pitch-black offshoot tunnels."

"She finally got to the cold storage holding room but had to feel around in the dark for the long cord hanging from a single lightbulb. She found the cord and pulled it to find the room filled with covered bodies on gurneys. She had to squeeze her body’s gurney into the room but bumped into one that must have been just brought down. It emitted a loud groan and shuddered violently. Even though my mom knew this could happen, I can’t imagine the level of fear she was going through at that moment! She never went to the room alone after that."


16."I have a few stories. Most uncomfortable? Being trapped in the morgue alone during a hurricane. Our morgue was basically in a basement, 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 stand on my desk for about two hours until someone finally came to rescue me. Most bizarre? There was a guy who'd drowned and was dead on arrival. Once we locked him up in the cabinet, we started hearing a tapping noise from where he was. It was a crab that had made itself at home inside him, and when it got cold, he wanted out. The creepiest was when we got some people who were taking bath salts and had eaten other people. "


A person lying on a morgue table with a tag on their toe while a medical professional in scrubs and gloves stands next to lockers, holding a clipboard
Darrin Klimek / Getty Images

17."My best friend growing up lived in the 'upstairs' of his family-owned funeral home. We used to play hide and go seek in the caskets until one day one of the 'empty' caskets wasn't empty at all, because they had just gotten a 'delivery' from a different funeral home."


18."My wife is a mortician. Once, she was trying to break up the rigor mortis in a decedent's hip by flexing the entire leg up. Her grip slipped, and the leg swung down, the heel cracking her right in the face and giving her a black eye. She had to explain to people that she's not in an abusive relationship; she just got kicked in the face by a dead guy."


19."We had an older lady come into the ER in full arrest. We worked her for a bit: compressions, epi, intubation, etc. Docs did an ultrasound of her heart to check for activity prior to calling a time of death. Family on site were notified; they said their goodbyes to their loved one and provided funeral home info. It took a few hours for the funeral home to arrive, and we told the transporter the room number and handed her the face sheet with demographic info so she could verify it with the patient's wristband to transport the order. Next thing we knew, the transporter came up to the nurse's desk pissed off, asking if we thought this was funny because the 'deceased' was breathing. We ran into the room, and sure enough, you could see chest rise and fall from the doorway."

"She had been extubated prior to the transporter's arrival, so I get where she was coming from. Did we purposely give her the wrong information? Nope. Right info, right patient. It turned out to be Lazarus Syndrome, which we think was caused by a late onset of epinephrine, maybe. Who knows, but I saw the ultrasound, and there was no movement. This lady was dead. No vital signs, no pulse, no cardiac activity. DEAD.

The docs had to call the family and explain Lazarus Syndrome and that death was unavoidable, as this was a temporary effect. Still, they had the option of calling her a full code status again since she was alive again. It took a few hours for her to pass…again."


A healthcare professional wearing protective glasses and gloves tends to a patient on a medical bed with curtains in the background
Fstop123 / Getty Images

20."A dead guy farted on me. I’m an RN and was helping to wrap my first dead patient. When he was being turned away from me, the built-up gasses were released as a fart, and I was in the direct line of fire. I shrieked and jumped back while my seasoned colleagues laughed at me."


21."One of the decedent's grandsons faked a breakdown over the casket. While doing so, he stole all of her jewelry off her body. It didn't take long for the family to figure it out; a large brawl broke out, and the jewelry was retrieved. The creepy thing was that, two weeks later, that grandson turned up at the morgue, needing to be processed and buried."


22."I worked at a funeral home for quite awhile. When I first started — about a month in — I was working during a holiday weekend. The only people there were the transport guys and me. They came to drop off a body and left right away. I thought they were still there and needed to ask a question. I walked into the embalming area, and this dude was SITTING UP ON THE GURNEY looking right at me when I opened the door. It literally made me pee a little in fright."

"Turns out, the transport guys picked up the body from an area hospital. He'd passed away while in a slightly reclined position, and rigor mortis had set in. So, they couldn't flatten him out. It's still the scariest moment in my career, even if I got a laugh out of it later."


23."I was a student nurse when a patient assigned to me passed away. I took off the patient's hospital gown by pulling it over their head, and I saw that their eyes were suddenly wide open. It freaked me out so much that I bolted outside. My clinical instructor explained to me that the patient's gown had pulled their eyelids and opened their eyes, but it still spooked me."

A woman and a priest stand beside an elderly man lying in a white-lined coffin, appearing to participate in a funeral service


Brasil2 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

24."Back in the day, I worked for a funeral home. Oftentimes, when an elderly client has prearrangements and they pass away, I would be dispatched to collect their earthly remains and bring them back to the funeral home to be prepped for their celebration of life/going away party. Sometimes, this would be a collection directly from the morgue, and sometimes, it would be from their residence. More often than not, this was typically in the middle of the night. I was on call from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Well, one night, I was dispatched to collect an elderly gentleman in the middle of the night. By the time I got back to the funeral home, it was around 3 a.m.”

"Once I helped 'Mr. Doe' get comfortable in our cooler, I was ready to leave. As I was just getting ready to set the alarm and head back home, the prep room door behind me FLUNG OPEN, and then SLAMMED very abruptly.

This door is very big, very heavy, and takes some power to open and close. Needless to say, I was early for my normal shift in the morning because, well, I didn’t go back to sleep. The creepiest thing about it is that just before that happened, the hair rose on the back of my neck."


25."A friend told me this story ages ago, and I hope I remember it well enough. When he was 18, he worked for a single-plane transport contractor, and one time, they had to carry a body. It wasn't autopsied or prepared for funeral yet, but that was where they were taking it. So, it was wrapped and just sort of laying on the floor. Now, when you're in the air, the rise and fall of the airplane will do strange things with gravity and air pressure. In any case, the corpse had enough air in its lungs that the lower pressure outside the body caused the air inside to be expelled, slowly, and through the larynx. Meanwhile, the rise and fall of the plane caused the body to sit up and for the wrapping to fall away from the body. Sitting up caused it to expel more air from its lungs. So, while flying a dead body in the plane, the crew heard a long, low moan, and saw a dead body sit up in the back of the plane."

"The pilot panicked, left the controls, ran back, and PUNCHED the corpse across the face, knocking it back down. He told me about how they figured out what happened later, but I was laughing too hard at that point to really pick up the details. I do remember that they had to explain the additional damage to the corpse when they arrived at their destination, though."


26."I am an ER nurse. One time, we had someone die, and no one came to claim the body, so they went to the morgue, and that was it. But their phone stayed behind in the ER by accident. Every day at 2:30 p.m., an alarm would go off. We couldn't turn the alarm off or shut the phone off without a passcode, and the battery on that thing was lasting FOREVER. So, we locked it in the med room, but it was still really loud. We had to listen to that dead person's alarm haunt us at the same time every day for a week. To this day, I shudder when I hear the same ringtone."


A man with an anxious facial expression looks concerned or startled. His hair is tousled, and he wears a casual shirt
Lifetime / Netflix

27."My ex-in-laws were in the death business. They told me a story once about the county attorney whose wife passed away. The family was very wealthy, and she had a mouth full of gold fillings. The attorney demanded that my inlaws retrieve the gold from her mouth. This required using a dental drill to drill down her teeth and dig out the gold. My ex-father-in-law complied with the attorney’s wishes, but was physically ill about having to do such a needless step to this lady's body."


28."My creepiest moment was when I was in the morgue by myself at 4 in the morning. I was using the lift to put a body into a crypt. It had reached roughly eye level when the power suddenly went out. It was pitch dark — I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face. All the fans died, so all I could hear was the crinkling of body bags and disembodied voices in the distance. I couldn't make out what they were saying or where they were coming from. The power came back a few moments later, and I moved on with my night."

"As it turned out, the voices were just the automated, 'The power has gone out, switching to generator power,' message. Haha, still creepy."


29."I’m an RN. One of my patients died. Two nurses are required to prepare the body for the mortician, which entails washing it and stuffing orifices. I was one of them on this occasion, and it was my first experience doing so. No one prepared me for what happened. We turned him over to wash his back/buttocks, and his arm fell across my shoulder, essentially embracing me. The damp cotton balls we placed to keep his eyes closed fell off, and his eyes opened. The last of the air from his lungs escaped, making him groan. This all happened at once, and I was terrified. I almost dropped him with fright!"

A person checks another’s pulse by pressing fingers on their wrist


Bangkokerz / Getty Images

30."Worked at a mortuary for a few years. We have methods to keep the jaw shut for viewing; otherwise, it would gape open due to the angle of the head and neck. During a viewing, the device failed, and this gentleman’s mouth literally popped open. The lead embalmer was not on site, so I did my best. I ushered the family out of the room and superglued his mouth shut, but he didn’t have teeth, and supergluing just his lips did NOT work. It looked as if he was attempting to scream."

"I had to call in one of our other mortuaries in town, and that embalmer used a giant needle and thread to sew his mouth shut from under his chin to his palate."


31."I had a gig doing overnight transport of dead bodies for a while. Think black suit, white shirt, black tie, unmarked black van, and white gloves. Our boss wanted us to look high-end. Anyway, we needed to transport a recently-deceased middle-aged woman 250 miles in the dead of night from a hospital morgue to a mortuary near her extended family. It'd been a solid two hours of total silence when the corpse let out a low wail. It sounded like, 'uhuhuhuhuhuhuhuh!'"

"I just about shit myself as I swerved off the freeway and sprayed out a rooster tail of gravel and dirt. Even though, intellectually, I knew this was just stomach gasses escaping the body, I couldn't help but be a little freaked out."


32.And lastly, "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 with an older 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."


While I recover from the goosebumps that are covering my body, I have a very important question to ask you. Members of the BuzzFeed Community who work with dead bodies — what's your wildest, creepiest on-the-job experience? Tell us about it in the comments below or via this anonymous form and they might be featured in an upcoming BuzzFeed Community article.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.